Avon woman pleads guilty in infant death
EAGLE, Colorado – An Avon woman admitted she was drunk when she tripped and fell on her infant son she was holding, killing him.
When asked for her plea, Tanya Baca hesitated as her voice cracked and she began to cry, finally answering “Guilty,” as she wiped tears away from her face.
Baca pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a Class 4 felony, stemming from the June 6 death of her son, Uriah. She faces a maximum six years in prison.
Baca quietly cried waiting in the jury box before entering her plea as she conferred with Reed Owens, her defense attorney from the public defender’s office.
She was originally charged with child abuse resulting in death and faced a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence, and up to 32 years. That charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
On June 6, Baca was intoxicated and tripped and fell on her infant son, Uriah, killing him, said Steve Mallory, assistant district attorney.
“Given those facts, we thought a 10-year minimum sentence in the Department of Corrections was inappropriate,” District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said when prosecutors agreed to the plea bargain.
More than a dozen of Baca’s friends and family members were scattered through the courtroom, as they have been for each of her court appearances. Baca graduated Battle Mountain High School and was raised in Minturn.
During Wednesday’s hearing District Court Judge Tom Moorhead asked Baca a string of questions. Baca choked out an answer of “yes” to each.
About the incident
About a half hour after midnight on the night of the incident, Avon police responded to the Vail Valley Medical Center to investigate injuries to a 3-month-old Avon boy.
The child was airlifted from Vail to Children’s Hospital in Aurora, where medical personnel continued to try to save him, said Avon police Lt. Greg Daly said.
“After advanced medical attempts to save the child, the child died,” Daly said.
Baca declined to go through a preliminary hearing last month in Eagle County Court before Judge Katharine Sullivan. After hearing the evidence and questioning by attorneys, Sullivan decided whether there was enough evidence to send the case to trial in District Court.
Defendants can waive their right to a preliminary hearing and go straight to District Court, as Baca did.
Law enforcement officials are under court orders not to release information about the case, said Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis.
Moorhead removed a mandatory restraining order put in place because Baca and the child’s father had concocted a different story while in the hospital waiting room, Mallory said.
She’s been in jail for roughly 70 days and Owens asked that bond be reduced to $2,500. Her only previous run-in was a 2008 misdemeanor. Moorhead ruled that Baca could be released on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond.
She’ll be sentenced on Oct. 17.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.