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Worthington man makes second plea bargain

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news Worthington, 56187
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Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- A 22-year-old Worthington man entered into a plea agreement Tuesday in Nobles County District Court -- his second this month.

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Ramon Cesar Barraza pleaded guilty to criminal damage to property with the agreement he would be sentenced to 60 days in jail, stayed on the condition he pay a $382 fine and his portion of $489 in restitution. He will serve one year of supervised probation.

Under questioning, Barraza said he was driving a car when his friend Gabriel Miranda threw a wrench out the window, hitting another vehicle.

"I was just driving alongside," Barraza stated.

The incident occurred in September 2008. Miranda, 20, pleaded guilty to a property damage charge in the case in May 2009 and was sentenced two months later to 90 days in jail, stayed on the condition he serve 30 days in jail and one year of supervised probation.

Last week, Barraza appeared in court and bargained his way out of several felonies, pleading guilty to third-degree riot, a gross misdemeanor.

He was charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, third-degree assault and second-degree riot with a dangerous weapon, stemming from an incident that took place in November 2008 in which a man was allegedly attacked and beat up while walking down the street.

Miranda was also involved in the beating, and charged with assault and riot. He pleaded guilty in October 2009 to third-degree riot and fifth-degree assault and was sentenced to a year in jail, stayed on the condition he serve 60 days.

During last Tuesday's plea hearing, Barraza put the bulk of the blame on his friend, stating he was in his vehicle while Miranda was involved in an altercation. He admitted a crowbar was found in his vehicle a few days after the assault.

The complaint from the assault states authorities were called to the emergency room after a man who had been assaulted showed up with a wound on his head and blood running down his face. Authorities also noted a zigzag pattern that appeared to be from a show on his arm.

The victim said he had been walking when a green SUV pulled up by him and three men got out and attacked. He said he got Miranda to back off, but the other two jumped him from behind. The victim accused Barraza of hitting him with some kind of steel object, which caused him to pass out. When he came to, he said he was being dragged into an area between two houses by Barraza and Miranda. As the third man, Nery Ontoneil Hernandez-Perez, kicked him in the ribs, Barraza recorded the incident with a hand-held camera, the victim stated.

Doctors later said the wound on the victim's head was consistent with being hit with a weapon like the one found in Barraza's vehicle.

During the last week's hearing, Barraza used an Alford Plea, which is used when the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence. Under the Alford plea the defendant admits sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

When asked by the judge if he understood what the Alford Plea meant, Barraza said he did.

"I believe I would be found guilty," he said.

The third man involved in the assault, Hernandez-Perez, pleaded guilty in February 2009 to third-degree riot. He was to have voluntarily left the country right around the time the assault took place, but authorities believed he had gone into hiding instead. He was arrested at a convenience store a month after the assault.

He was sentenced to a year in jail, stayed on the condition he serve 90 days, and two years probation. If deported, he was to report to probation within 24 hours of returning the United States.

Barraza was also accused in November 2006 of attacking a man after jumping out of a green SUV with two other men.

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