The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office:
Zachary M. Barajas, age 24, of Ukiah, avoided another jury trial, this one scheduled to get underway this coming Monday (March 22nd), by entering guilty and no contest pleas last Friday to sex offenses involving two minor victims.
The defendant was convicted in July 2019 by jury of one count of forcible rape of a minor, a felony. That jury was unable, however, to reach a unanimous verdict on a separate count of forcible rape of a separate minor, deadlocking 11-1 for guilt.
Rather than face the retrial before a new jury, Barajas admitted criminal responsibility for an additional felony count of forcible digital penetration of one female minor and an additional felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a separate female.
To resolve the matter once and for all, defendant Barajas was required to stipulate to and accept a state prison sentence of 148 months to achieve the settlement.
The current convictions taken as a whole now constitute two Strikes under California’s current version of the Three Strikes law. After the defendant’s eventual release from prison many years down the road, he can be charged with the two prior Strikes from this case and be exposed to a future prison sentence of 25 years to life should he again commit and be convicted of another serious or violent felony.
Also, because he has now been convicted of a violent felony, as characterized in the Penal Code, any early release credits the defendant has earned or may attempt to earn while in custody of the state prison authorities shall be limited to no more than fifteen percent of the overall 148 months. Once released on parole and continuing for the remainder of his life, Barajas shall be required to register with local law enforcement as a sex offender.
The law enforcement agencies that investigated the cases and developed the evidence underlying all the convictions were the Ukiah Police Department, the California Department of Justice DNA Laboratory, and the DA’s own Bureau of Investigations.
The attorney who has been and will continue through sentencing to handle the prosecution of this defendant is Assistant District Attorney Dale P. Trigg.
Mendocino County Superior Court Presiding Judge Ann Moorman accepted the defendant’s request to change his pleas last Friday. Judge Moorman will preside over the sentencing hearing and impose the agreed-upon state prison sentence on May 5, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. in Department G at the Ukiah Courthouse.
Any person interested in the final sentencing of this defendant is welcome to attend the sentencing hearing on May 5th. Facial coverings are still required in the courthouse and all courtrooms.