UPDATED: Dad gets 18 years in baby's death - Albuquerque Journal

UPDATED: Dad gets 18 years in baby’s death

The Las Cruces man who left his infant daughter in a laundry basket, went out to buy beer, then returned to find the child unresponsive, was sentenced Tuesday afternoon to 18 years in prison, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

Robert Flores, 28, was convicted in February of negligent child abuse resulting in death and tampering with evidence at a trial held in Albuquerque because of concerns over local media coverage of the case.

State District Judge Fernando Macias told Flores he didn’t consider him a “monster,” but said “there has to be accountability,” the Sun-News said.

Flores’ attorney Mark Pickett had asked for a 12-year sentence, citing mitigating factors, such as his genuine remorse and love for his daughter, the paper reported. Pickett also asked that Flores be released on bond pending his appeal.

But Macias said there were no mitigating factors and that Flores might consider a bond hearing once he saw the basis for an appeal, according to the Sun-News report.

Meanwhile, Flores — who had been free on bond for most of the time since being indicted more than five years ago — was led in handcuffs from the courtroom Tuesday, the Sun-News said.

Prosecutor Jacinto Palomino said a determination on a bond hearing for Flores could come within 40 days, the paper reported.


 

2/18/13 — Cruces Dad Convicted in Baby’s Death

By Scott Sandlin/Journal Staff Writer

An Albuquerque jury hearing a Las Cruces child abuse case Thursday convicted the father of a 4-month-old girl who died while in his care of negligent child abuse and tampering with evidence.

Robert Flores, 28, was taken into custody immediately on the order of District Judge Fernando Macías, who ordered a presentence report.

Assistant District Attorney Jacinto Palomino argued that Flores should be denied bond entirely because he faces an 18-year mandatory sentence on the child abuse count. Flores’ attorney Mark Pickett suggested that bond should remain at the $50,000 figure set following the child’s death in 2007, noting his client has complied with all his conditions of release in the interim.

Macías decided to increase the bond to $100,000, so Flores will remain in custody until the amount is posted.

Flores was home alone with his infant child while his girlfriend was at work. He put the child in a laundry basket of dirty clothes in a dark closet, according to trial testimony, though the prosecution said it was so neighbors wouldn’t hear her cry and the defense contended it was so she would be comfortable. The child died of asphyxiation.

Pickett declined comment after the verdict.

Palomino said after the verdict that Flores gave a statement to police in which he said that, even after finding the child unresponsive, he put her on the bed for an hour, telling police, “I hoped she’d wake up.”

Police were called to the residence when the mother returned from work at 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 6, 2007, and found her daughter Kalynne dead.

The case took five years to get to trial in part because the prosecution took a pre-trial appeal of Macías’ ruling excluding certain evidence — namely that Flores had left the home about 10:45 p.m. to purchase beer and cigarettes. Though Macías found that evidence unduly prejudicial, he said prosecutors could present Flores’ statements that he had been drinking and the alcohol containers that were found at the scene.

The Court of Appeals upheld Macías last April.

“We recognize that the jury may never learn defendant’s specific purpose in leaving the residence,” the court said in its opinion, “(but) it seems unlikely that a jury would reasonably infer that (Flores’) reason for leaving his infant daughter was justified.”

The tampering with evidence charge related to Flores pouring out a glass of beer before police arrived.

A sentencing date has not been set.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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