Eagle Nest father pleads guilty in infant death case

Plea deal limits sentencing to a maximum of six years in jail

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Monday (Nov. 27) Mariano Araica-Avalos of Eagle Nest pleaded no contest to one count of abandonment of a child resulting in death, a second-degree felony, in Eighth District Court in Ratón. According to a press release from Colfax County Undersheriff Leonard Baca, "As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to a cap of six years maximum incarceration. Araica-Avalos' sentence will be determined after he completes a pre-sentencing evaluation."

"Although the sentencing maximum is low, the Colfax County Sheriff's Office is content knowing the plea deal has ensured some accountability for the loss of life, the stolen potential, and the future joys deprived from Arayah," according to the press release. "We are also confident that no sentence could equal the guilt from causing the death of your own child. The Colfax County Sheriff's Office would like to thank the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau and Crime Scene Team, as well as the Eighth Judicial District Attorney's Office for helping to bring closure and justice for Arayah Araica."

According to an earlier press release from the sheriff's office, on March 19, 2016, "deputies were dispatched to a residence in Eagle Nest because of an unresponsive child. The child, identified as eight-month-old Arayah Araica, was pronounced dead on scene."

At that time "Mariano Araica-Avalos said she had fallen from the bed." However, "inconsistencies with statements given by Araica-Avalos," and an autopsy that showed Arayah died from "significant trauma, including broken ribs, muscular neck hemorrhages, and a fractured skull" led to Araica-Avalos' Jan. 27, 2017, arrest.

Baca told The Chronicle that work on the case was a long process, noting the office had to wait for the autopsy to be returned from the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque and a report from the Children, Youth and Family Department's protective services division in Santa Fe, which conducted its own investigation.

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