Man who burglarized, tried to tie up 80-year-old woman sentenced

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In court Tuesday, Joseph Baca was sentenced to nine years in prison for charges related to a brutal home invasion in June 2016.

“She leaned over and said to me that she was so sorry for what her son had done. I said, ‘I understand’ and she said, ‘It’s the drugs,” said Doreen Cuzzort as she described meeting her attacker’s mother.

The now 80-year-old Cuzzort says 31-year-old Baca was fueled on heroin when she became the victim of his crime of opportunity. Cuzzort was outside her home near Candelaria and Tramway gardening on the morning of Jun. 17. She went inside to wash her hands and left her garage open.

While inside, she noticed a tan car pull into her driveway.

“When I opened the [door to the garage] there was a man there. A very large man standing there dressed all in black,” said Cuzzort.

Cuzzort says Baca was armed with a sawed-off shotgun. He said he wanted money and then forced his way into her laundry room.

“For some reason, he wanted to tie me up and he didn’t come prepared to tie me up. So I guess he thought I was just going to say, ‘Come on in,'” said Cuzzort.

That’s when Baca saw Cuzzort’s 25-foot-long dog leash. He tried to use that to tie her up.

“He was three times my size and I guess I frustrated him very much because I refused to be tied up,” said Cuzzort.

Then, Baca’s accomplice, Amy Phelan, showed up. She locked Cuzzort in the bathroom while Baca rummaged through her home, making off with money and her car.

As soon as the two got in the cars, Cuzzort got out of the bathroom, running outside to alert the neighbors. Luckily, there was a garage sale across the street and people wrote down descriptions and called the police.

Albuquerque Police officers found Phelan that night and caught up to Baca five days later.

“We were very pleased with everything the police did and with the information, I was able to provide to them they were right on top of their job way back when this all happened,” said Cuzzort.

Baca was charged with kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle.

Cuzzort testified in court Tuesday after the court found Baca’s kidnapping offense a Serious Violent Offence. Meaning, Baca will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.

“I thought his sentence was very fair,” said Cuzzort.

He will spend four months in drug rehabilitation before actually going to prison.

“I’m hoping that he has a better life in the future,” said Cuzzort.

Phelan was originally facing similar charges. Her charges were dropped and she was only sentenced to three years probation after agreeing to testify against Baca.

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