Contributed File Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Aaliyah Palacio, 26, was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison to be followed up with 3 years on standard probation.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – Aaliyah Kristine Palacio, 26, of Safford, was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for shoplifting on Monday, however, she was also given a chance to overcome her addiction to methamphetamine.
Palacio appeared in front of Graham County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Travis L. Ragland, who had previously deferred acceptance of a plea agreement Palacio entered July 20. After an explanation from the prosecution and defense, Judge Ragland sentenced Palacio to a presumptive term of 2.5 years in prison for shoplifting, to be followed by a probation tail of 3 years of standard probation on two separate drug cases and a reinstatement of probation for a previous drug case.
Palacio was arrested on Jan. 9 after she was located asleep at the wheel of a car while it was parked at a Circle K but was still running. Prior to that, she was a passenger in a high-speed chase in October 2020 in which the driver, Manuelita Manuela Aguilar, of Willcox, recklessly sped from pursuing officers. That pursuit ended when Aguilar lost control and got stuck in a dirt berm off Stockton Road.
Judge Ragland didn’t mince words while sentencing Palacio.
“If you end up back here, all those cases you’re on probation; they turn into prison cases,” Judge Ragland said. “This is that last chance. Make the most of it (and) do what you need to do.”
The plea agreement covers four separate cases; one possession of a dangerous drug charge from 2019 in which Palacio was already on probation, a 2021 case with charges of possession of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia, a 2021 shoplifting charge, and a 2021 case with charges of transportation of a dangerous drug for sale, possession of a dangerous drug, possession of drug paraphernalia, and taking contraband into a correctional facility.
Graham County Deputy County Attorney Garet Kartchner had requested Judge Ragland defer sentencing on Palacio’s last drug case until after she finished an in-patient drug rehabilitation. Kartcher advised that if she did well and finished she should then be sentenced to probation like the other two cases, but if she failed then Kartchner argued that Palacio should be given a prison sentence of 1.5 years.
Palacio’s attorney, Barry Standifird, suggested that the timeframe was too long and requested Palacio simply be placed on probation for the case as well. Judge Ragland agreed and placed Palacio on a concurrent term of 3 years on standard probation upon her release from prison.
While she was originally charged with transportation of a dangerous drug for sale and Palacio allegedly made statements to the fact that she had sold meth in the past, for the incident in question there was less than one gram of meth, and prosecutors agreed to amend the charge to an “attempted” sale instead. Judge Ragland then accepted the plea and ordered Palacio to serve a concurrent 3-year term of probation.
“Ma’m, I don’t know if I’m really doing you any favors by doing that,” Judge Ragland said. “The thing is this, you got two-and-a-half years to get it figured out. When you get out, you need to make sure you immediately report to probation. It will likely end up with them doing some sort of substance abuse assessment.”
“Please take this seriously,” Judge Ragland said. “You end up back in here too many more times there won’t be much left.”