Sacto 9-1-1
May 31, 2013
Man acquitted of 3-year-old's murder enters plea in drug case

A man acquitted of murder in the death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old boy five years ago pleaded no contest in an unrelated case today to transportation of heroin and cocaine.

Joseph Phillip Skates, 28, entered the plea in Sacramento Superior Court over a May 12, 2012, traffic stop for which he also was accused of driving under the influence.

Skates had been arrested for the Nov. 9, 2008, death of Manuel "Manny" Maciel, who suffered his injuries in a North Natomas apartment two days earlier while in Skates' care.

Sacramento prosecutors charged Skates with murder in the boy's death, but a jury acquitted him Feb. 11, 2010, after a six-day trial.

Skates' girlfriend and Manny's mother, Rosalie Uribe, also was arrested and charged with child endangerment. She pleaded no contest. At her sentencing, Judge Timothy M. Frawley harshly criticized the jury's decision in Skates' case.

At Uribe's sentencing, Frawley told her, "I personally was convinced by the evidence. He killed your son."

In a three-count complaint stemming from the 2012 arrest, Skates had been charged with possession of heroin and cocaine, transportation of the drugs and possession of a smoking device. He entered a no-contest plea to the transportation charge.

Judge Bunmi Awoniyi scheduled Skates' sentencing for July 12. Deputy District Attorney Megan Eixenberger said Skates is facing a maximum term of one year in county jail.

Prosecutors dismissed a separate petty theft case that had been filed against Skates.

Skates' attorney, Jesse Ortiz, said his client's drug problem relates back to the murder case and the two years and three months he spent in jail before his acquittal.

"It was tough for him in custody, and he was there for so long," Ortiz said. "The charges were so serious. He always maintained his innocence, and he still does. It's just the stress of being in custody so long has taken a toll on him."

Ortiz said he will ask the sentencing judge on July 12 "to give him the least amount of time possible." Ortiz said he also will seek to have the court admit Skates into a rehabilitation program.

A co-defendant in the case, Martin Soloman, who was in a car with Skates when they were pulled over, also pleaded no contest to possession for sale of nearly 14 and a half grams of heroin and a little more than three and a half grams of cocaine, plus $609 in cash.

Soloman is looking at a split, four-year state prison term, Eixenberger said.

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