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Mom gets 6 years in baby’s death, but ‘real culprit goes free’

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Miranda Rabago, seated with defense attorney Douglas Wood, is tearful during her Wednesday sentencing hearing of abusing against her late son Ares Baroz, who was 18 months old when he died in 2016. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — It has been nearly three years since 18-month-old Ares Baroz died from a skull fracture and several other gruesome injuries, and though there appears to be a suspect in his death, no charges have been filed.

On Wednesday the boy’s mother, 28-year-old Miranda Rabago, was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of child abuse for not tending to Ares’ various injuries.

She was charged with his death in November 2016, but in May of this year prosecutors cut her a deal and told a judge that someone else caused the boy’s fatal injuries.

The suspect is a man named David Vialpando, prosecutor Mary Carmack-Altwies of the Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

At a sentencing hearing for Rabago, District Court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer asked Carmack-Altwies why Vialpando is not facing charges.

“There’s not a case against him at present,” Carmack-Altwies responded. After the hearing she told the Journal that there was an ongoing investigation.

“It’s interesting to me that we sit here in 2019… and the real culprit goes free,” Marlowe Sommer said in court.

But SFPD Deputy Chief Ben Valdez said later that Vialpando is not a suspect although new information is being reviewed.

“We doing a review of the case to see if the information provided is correct,” Valdez said. “We’re looking to see what involvement, if any, he had.” He could not immediately say when the information was provided.

The case previously gained national attention after the Journal reported that photos which prosecutors obtained showed baby Ares with fake facial tattoos and the words “thug life” written across his stomach.

Ares had a skull fracture and brain bleeding as well as six other fractures to his tibia, fibia and clavicle when he died. He was taken to the hospital in November 2016 because he was unresponsive, and doctors called police due to the nature of the injuries.

Rabago was apparently also a victim of Vialpando. Marlowe Sommer mentioned that Vialpando, who Carmack-Altwies described as Rabago’s “violent partner,” had threatened to kill Rabago if she told anyone of his abuse.

Stephen Taylor, one of Rabago’s attorneys, said Rabago “made a lot of progress” in addressing childhood trauma and grief over her son’s death.

“It would be a waste of resources and it would be a waste of time to send Miranda to prison for a long period,” Taylor said.

Rabago did not speak at the hearing.

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