Prosecution Asks For Supplement To Appeal Documents

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The Athens County Prosecutor's Office is asking to supplement the record of an appeal of a man convicted of attempted murder with "crucial facts," according to a motion.

The motion, filed Dec. 6 in the case of Brandon Baker, also asked that a news article put into the file be stricken from the record.

Baker, 21, appealed after accepting a plea deal for his involvement in a January 2012 attack in Ota Vincent, 83, of Coolville. 

Baker, Colin Stout, Cody Stout and Christopher Fleming all went to Vincent's Coolville home and Baker and Colin Stout perpetrated a brutal attack on the woman, leaving her for dead inside the home. 

Vincent survived the injuries, but has since moved out of the area, according to previous Messenger reporting.

Baker was sentenced to 20 years in jail, while the main perpetrator in the attack, Colin Stout, was sentenced to 15 years. Cody Stout and Fleming were each sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison for their roles.

In his appeal to the sentence, Baker argued that he didn't get along with his attorney and his attorney had a "deteriorating" relationship with the prosecutor's office while negotiations were ongoing. The appeal also argued that he was less culpable than a co-defendant but received a longer prison sentence.

In his appeal, State Public Defender E. Kelly Mihocik argued that the only reason Baker received a heavier sentence was because the trial court refused to allow attorney Eric Hedrick to withdraw from the case, according to previous Messenger reporting.

Hedrick was later taken off the case by Glenn Jones, director of the Athens branch of the Ohio Public Defender's Office and Herman Carson was put on as Baker's counsel.

The prosecutor's office denies in the most recent motion that Hedrick had a less than "amicable" relationship with the prosecutor's office, even citing cases on which the office is working with Hedrick currently.

"If Hedrick maintains that there was and has been a deteriorating relationship," Assistant County Prosecutor Meg Saunders writes. "Why would he be assigned to cases that directly involve the Athens County Prosecutor's Office? Simply put, (Baker's) argument is disingenuous."

Other "crucial facts" involving plea negotiations were left out of the appeal as Baker's attorney "willfully neglected" to supplement the record, Saunders wrote.

In conversations between Carson, Jones and Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn, a 15-year prison sentence was offered a second time before Baker pleaded guilty. Carson said in the conversation that he would meet with Baker to discuss the offer, according to court documents.

During the negotiations, a newspaper article ran that notified Vincent of the potential deal. Vincent decided she was willing to testify in the trial because she wanted Baker to receive more time, Blackburn said. The prosecutor's office then changed its deal, offering Baker 18 years without the possibility of parole.

"Our case is stronger, we have every co-defendant to testify and the victim," Blackburn said, explaining his process at the time. "We offer 18, he gets no judicial release."

Baker turned down the deal, and Carson asked for 15 years. Blackburn would not agree to a deal unless the idea of application for judicial release was thrown out. Baker then agreed to plead guilty, but wanted to argue for sentencing.

Including the newspaper article and arguing that the offer of 15 years was not on the table are both unfounded arguments in the appeal, Blackburn said.

"We don't cite media sources in the process of an appeal," Blackburn said. "And the fact is he did get the offer, so their premise is wrong."

Carson also agreed to provide an affidavit to the prosecutor's office saying the deal was given to him, but the Columbus division of the Ohio Public Defender's office notified Carson that he "can no longer communicate about this matter with either the Athens County Prosecutor's Office or the appellate division of the Ohio Public Defender," according to the prosecutor's motion.

Although the prosecution has made an effort to supplement the record, the duty should fall on the appellate attorneys, Saunders argued in the motion.

"It is the duty of appellate attorneys to ensure that the trial record is free from misrepresentations and inaccuracies," Saunders wrote. "The State feels that a crucial conversation between (Baker) and Mr. Carson is willfully being omitted by the (Baker)."

A hearing has not been scheduled on the motion.