The fight isn’t over for a Taos Pueblo man who is still trying to have his 12-year prison sentence reconsidered after he struck a plea deal in 2009.
Dominic Bau is serving his sentence after pleading guilty to criminal sexual penetration and criminal sexual contact of a minor in 2007. His third charge, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, was dismissed as part of the deal.
Former Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Sam Sánchez sentenced Bau to 12 years for the two offenses, and Bau has been trying to have his sentence reconsidered and reduced ever since.
Bau’s charges stem from an incident in July 2007 when Bau was attending his grandmother’s funeral with the rest of his family when he took a girl to a hotel room. There, the victim told authorities Bau raped her after giving her cigarettes and alcohol. The girl’s system also tested positive for cocaine, though it was never proven that Bau gave her the drug.
In November 2009, many of Bau’s friends and family were arrested at the hearing where Sánchez denied Bau’s motion to reconsider. An outburst ensued and Sánchez had some 30 people held in contempt. Earlier this year, Sánchez resigned from the bench at the urging of the New Mexico Supreme Court, who called his failure to immediately release the prisoners unconstitutional.
Last fall, Bau and Taos public defender Linda Hollander began the process again when Judges Paternoster, Andria Cooper and Sarah Backus all recused or excused themselves from hearing the case.
Bau’s case then went to the state supreme court to be assigned a judge. The court chose Judge Abigail Aragón, who just last month granted the Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office motion to vacate the case. In her order, Aragón asked for filed responses from both the defense and the D.A.’s office before handing down her ruling.
The D.A.’s office had yet to file a response as of presstime, but the defense’s response brought up a number of points to prove, as Hollander put it, that “Mr. Bau’s punishment does not fit his crime.”
One of the issues is the question of expert testimony from Dr. Moss Aubrey, who prepared a Sex Offender Evaluation Report for the court as part of pre-sentence proceedings. Hollander attests that Bau is entitled to have a court hear Aubrey’s expert testimony.
“The testimony would not be a mere duplication of the report previously provided to the court,” Hollander wrote. “This testimony has not yet been provided because of fear on the part of the defendant. [Bau] is seeking to present this information to an open-minded court.”
Such testimony, Hollander argued, would illustrate that Bau is “at a low risk of recidivism” and that the high profile given to his case after the mass contempt arrests has taken its toll.
“[Bau] is now in even more jeopardy in the Department of Corrections than he originally was,” Hollander said in the response. “He is not able to take classes, participate in sex offender rehabilitation or have a normal prison job.”
Hollander also objected to the length of Bau’s sentence, arguing that it was excessive given that the D.A.’s office didn’t ask that Bau’s charges be classified as “serious violent offenses.”