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Portales teen arrested on murder charge

A Portales teenager was charged with murder on Wednesday.

Richard Baca, who turned 18 on May 2, is accused of killing Amber Robinson, 19, of Portales. Robinson’s body was discovered fully intact Friday afternoon, buried in the back yard of a residence at 717 N. Ave. J, where Baca lives.

Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said Baca also faces a charge of tampering with evidence in addition to an open count of murder.

Baca is in custody at the Roosevelt County Detention Center with no bond.

Berry said police believe Robinson died on April 26, the same night her family reported her missing. He said police believe Robinson died from blows following a confrontation with her attacker, though an autopsy has not confirmed a cause of death.

“We didn’t get as much from the Office of Medical Investigation as we hoped,” Berry said. “Much of our information was from ... interviews. At this point in time, we’re beginning to weed out what would not be causes of death, so it may take a little bit longer.”

Officials said the charges were filed against Baca in juvenile court, with the intention to petition the court for adult sanctions.

District Attorney Brett Carter said that action is standard when an 18-year-old is charged with a crime that may have taken place before the accused person’s birthday.

“That way, his age will not be a defense in the trial,” Carter said Wednesday. “If we don’t go under that assumption (and start the process in adult court), all the defense attorney has to do is prove the crime could have happened before (the defendant’s 18th birthday). That could substantially lower the penalties.”

Attempts to reach Baca’s family were not successful on Wednesday.