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Mother arraigned in death of toddler; pics show child with ‘thug life’ on stomach

SANTA FE – Cellphone photos show fake tattoos across the face and the words “thug life” written across the stomach of tiny Ares Baroz, who died last year of injuries prosecutors say were inflicted by his mother.

A description of the photos was among new details released Friday during the arraignment of Miranda Rabago, 27, charged with child abuse resulting in the death last November of her 18-month-old son.

Prosecutors say Rabago was his only caretaker when Ares suffered his fatal injuries. She pleaded not guilty in Santa Fe District Court on Friday; if found guilty, she faces up to 21 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Susan Stinson said in court that Ares had a skull fracture and chronic brain bleeding as well as six other fractures, including to his tibia, fibia and clavicle. The boy also had bruising on the cartilage in both his ears. Stinson said the Office of the Medical Investigator autopsy report, which is crucial evidence, has not been released.

But Stinson also said that Rabago, who is pregnant, doesn’t face a life sentence because there’s no evidence that the death was intentional.

Stinson described photos the state has from Rabago’s cellphone that show the writing on Ares’ body and others in which he appears to be asleep or unconscious on the floor.

Ares was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center on Nov. 22 for being unresponsive, and doctors called police because of the nature of his injuries. Rabago told officers that Ares fell out of his crib while she was sleeping in another room at their apartment near Cerrillos Road and Zafarano Drive and had no idea how he got the injuries, according to initial police reports.

On Friday, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer imposed a $50,000 signature bond and allowed Rabago to remain on 24-hour lockdown at a friend’s house in Santa Fe. Rabago also is not allowed to have contact with minors, including neighborhood children.

Stinson said in court that she “doesn’t have a position” to ask Marlowe Sommer to deny Rabago a bond to keep her in jail. A new state constitutional amendment passed in November allows judges to not set bond for defendants deemed too dangerous to be in public, but Marlowe Sommer said before setting Rabago’s conditions of release that the state has to prove a suspect poses a danger.

“We’re all somewhat uncomfortable on how to approach the new mandate,” Marlowe Sommer said. The judge also found that Rabago is not a flight risk.

Rabago was arrested and released Dec. 14 on the same conditions Marlowe Sommer imposed Friday. She was arrested again Dec. 19 after she was indicted, and she was returned to jail, where she remained until Friday.

Rabago’s two other children now live in Colorado with her parents, Stinson said. Rabago filed for divorce from the children’s father a week before her first arrest and asked for sole custody of the children. She checked a box on the petition that says she is the “fit and proper person” to care for the children.

According to police reports, Ares Baroz was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center around 6:45 p.m. on Nov. 21 after Rabago said he was unresponsive. Doctors called police and told them the infant had a skull fracture on the back of his head and had “black brain” from prior shaking. He also had a broken right clavicle from a previous incident.

Ares was taken to University of New Mexico Hospital, where doctors there determined that Ares was in the lowest percentile range for his height and weight and that he was malnourished and under-cared-for.

Detectives searching Rabago’s apartment found blood on a pillow and a sippy cup full of rotten milk in Ares’ crib. There was a glass pipe with marijuana residue on it next to the crib and another on the floor next to a mattress in the living room.

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