NMSC upholds commitment of Socorro man who killed his father with a pick axe

In State v. Baca, the New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld the criminal commitment of Manuel Baca, who killed his father in Socorro with a pick axe in 2016. The district court found him incompetent to stand trial and ordered him committed to the custody of the New Mexico Department of Health.

In an opinion by Justice Thomson, the Supreme Court held as follows:

  • The New Mexico Constitution (Article VI, section 2) gives the Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction over all judgments “imposing a sentence of death or life imprisonment,” and the Supreme Court has held that this provision extends its jurisdiction to interlocutory appeals in cases where a life or death sentence could be imposed. In this case, the Supreme Court held that Article VI, section 2 jurisdiction also extends to criminal commitment orders where, as here, they effectively subject the defendant to a life sentence.
  • The Supreme Court then went on to hold that substantial evidence supported the district court’s decision that the defendant acted with the deliberate intent of ending his father’s life without lawful justification or excuse. Among other things, the defendant used a deadly weapon and tried to deceive law enforcement about what happened.
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