“We are extremely fortunate in California to have Department of Justice forensic labs and incredibly gifted criminalists who devote their careers using science to help law enforcement with investigations that might otherwise go unsolved and not prosecuted.”
UKIAH – On March 16, 2020, the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office announced that Zachary M. Barajas, 24, of Ukiah, entered guilty and no contest pleas to sex offenses involving two separate female minor victims.
Barajas 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 minor.
To resolve the matter, Barajas was required to stipulate to and accept a state prison sentence of 148 months to achieve the settlement.
The three convictions include two strike convictions under California’s current version of the Three Strikes law. After the defendant’s eventual release from prison, 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. Once released on parole and continuing for the remainder of his life, Barajas shall be required to register annually with local law enforcement as a sex offender.
The law enforcement agencies that investigated the crimes and developed the evidence underlying all of the convictions were the Ukiah Police Department, the California Department of Justice DNA Laboratory, and the DA’s Bureau of Investigations.
Mendocino County Superior Court Presiding Judge Ann Moorman will preside over the sentencing hearing and impose the agreed-upon state prison sentence on May 5, 2020.