A man acquitted of murder in the death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old boy five years ago pleaded no contest Friday 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 fatal injuries in a North Natomas apartment 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 criticized the jury's acquittal of Skates.
At Uribe's sentencing, Frawley told her, "I personally was convinced by the evidence. He killed your son."
Skates more recently had been charged in a three-count complaint stemming from the 2012 arrest 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 is tied to the murder case.
"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 drug 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 1/2 grams of heroin and a little more than 3 1/2 grams of cocaine, plus $609 in cash.
Soloman is looking at a split, four-year state prison term, Eixenberger said.
Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.