By Tony Parra
A pre-trial hearing for a Portales murder suspect has been postponed after defense attorneys and prosecutors met with 9th Judicial District Court Judge Stephen Quinn on Friday morning in the Roosevelt County Courthouse.
The pre-trial hearing for Richard Baca was originally set for Friday. The delay was granted because the prosecuting attorney has not received laboratory results from the state of New Mexico.
Quinn granted prosecutor Donna Mowrer a 90-day extension on the pre-trial hearing. That means the date of the jury trial, which had been set for Sept. 21, will also be delayed, probably until next year.
Baca, 18, is facing a first degree-murder charge and two counts of tampering with evidence in connection with the April slaying of Amber Robinson of Portales.
Richard Baca was arrested on May 12 and has been in the Roosevelt County Detention Center since then on a $300,000 cash-only bond.
Clifford Baca, 20, Richard’s brother, faces drug-related charges, which are also tied to the lab tests, officials said. He’s also in jail, though Quinn reduced his bond from $15,000 to $11,500 on Friday.
Quinn said Clifford Baca could stay under house arrest at his grandmother’s house in Clovis if he posts bail.
The victim’s mother said she fears Clifford Baca is a flight risk if he’s released.
“My main goal is justice for my daughter,” Joann Martinez told the court. “He was one of the last persons to see (Amber).”
Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said officials have been trying to get lab results every day for the last two weeks.
“They’re backed up,” Berry said. “The state has a contract with out-of-state labs. We’re at their mercy.”