Baker Gets Two Years Less In Re-Sentencing

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A Belpre man convicted of attempted murder and other charges for an attack on an elderly Coolville woman was re-sentenced in Athens County Common Pleas Tuesday, receiving a sentence two years shorter than his original.

Brandon Baker, 21, took an 18-year sentence after an agreement was brokered between his defense counsel and the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office. The 18-year sentence was agreed upon with the condition that Baker never attempt to appeal the case again and serves out the length of the sentence.

The agreement of 18 years was made with the approval of the victim, said Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Pepper. Defense attorney Greg Meyers said the agreement would be followed by Baker.

“We forebear, forgo and waive any further attacks on this case,” Meyers told the court on Tuesday. “It is my interpretation that (the agreement) is easily broad enough to cover any attacks on the case.”

Baker was charged with three counts of aggravated robbery, three counts of aggravated burglary, two counts of felonious assault, two counts of kidnapping, three counts of theft and one count each of abduction, tampering with evidence, and attempted murder.

All of the charges stem from a January 2012 incident in which Baker and three other men went to the home of Ota Vincent, beat the woman to the point of hospitalization and robbed her. Another man, Colin Stout, was considered the main perpetrator of the attack, and took a plea deal with the prosecutor’s office for a sentence of 15 years in prison.

Through his appeal with the 4th District Court of Appeals, Baker argued that the 20-year sentence he received was not fair, considering Stout had received a lesser sentence. Baker’s previous defense attorney, Eric Hedrick, was also blamed, with Baker arguing that he couldn’t trust the attorney and plea negotiations on his behalf suffered because of Hedrick, according to previous Messenger reporting.

The court of appeals said Baker did not provide facts supporting a claim that Hedrick jeopardized Baker’s right to effective counsel, but they did remand the case back to Athens County Common Pleas for re-sentencing. The appeals court said the question of merged sentences was still to be decided.

In the re-sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Judge George McCarthy said that some charges could be merged based on the facts. Charges can be merged in a case if it can be proven that offenses were done with the same “animus,” or intention in committing the crimes.

McCarthy ruled that the aggravated robbery counts would merge and the aggravated burglary counts would merge. The kidnapping charges were merged with the abduction count and the attempted murder charge was merged with the two felonious assault charges. One count of theft (theft of an elderly person) was merged with a count of general theft and the rest of the charges remained separate counts.

On the counts of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and the kidnapping, Baker was sentenced to seven years in prison each, with all three to run concurrent, for a total of seven years. For the charge of attempted murder, he received a sentence of 11 years, to run consecutively to the seven year sentence. All other sentences on the other charges ran concurrent with the 18-year total.

“The only reason the court is willing to do this is because the victim is amenable to (the agreement),” McCarthy said.

Neither the victim nor her family were present for the hearing.

Meyers said there was a “wealth of ample factual evidence” to support the sentence and that, overall, Baker had a “much deeper and graver sense of the horror of the crime.”

Baker chose not to make a statement on his own behalf during the hearing.