|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - July 2010
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Baker pleads guilty to Valentines’ Day shooting
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON – A 47-year-old Trinity man was sentenced to two concurrent 15-year prison terms after pleading guilty last week in connection with a Valentine’s Day shooting and police standoff. Michael Baker pled guilty to the murder of his mother, Joyce Baker Stewart, 67, and the aggravated assault of his step-father, H.F. Stewart, 67, both of Trinity. Baker was one of two Trinity men who pled out on Tuesday, June 29, during court hearings before District Judge Robert Hill Trapp in Groveton. The other was Rikki Wright, 18, of Trinity. Wright was charged in connection with the sexual assault of a nine-year-old girl. In the Baker case, District Attorney Joe Ned Dean said the two 15-year prison terms was agreed to as part of a plea bargain arrangement. “If I had taken it to a jury, he might have gotten a longer sentence, but then again, he might have gotten a lot less,” Dean said following last week’s hearing. The DA said the defense attorney appeared to be preparing an insanity defense for Baker and Dean said he felt it was best for all parties to make the plea bargain arrangement. Under the plea bargain, Baker cannot appeal his conviction. Baker was arrested on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, at his mother and stepfather’s residence located off Highway 94 near Trinity, about half a mile north of the FM 3188 intersection. The shooting occurred shortly before 2 p.m. and Trinity County deputies soon arrived on the scene to find a heavily armed Baker still inside the house with his wounded mother. His stepfather had been allowed to leave the scene after the initial shooting and was later found trying to drive himself to East Texas Medical Center-Trinity. He subsequently recovered from two gunshot wounds to the head. A little over two hours into a standoff with officers, Baker allowed his mother to leave the house and she was given immediate medical attention. However, she died the next day in a Houston hospital. After an army of law enforcement officers surrounded the home – including three SWAT teams for neighboring counties – the standoff finally came to a peaceful end about 9:20 p.m. when Baker surrendered. Throughout the seven-hour standoff, Baker reportedly repeatedly threatened to kill himself. Dean said Baker had been living in Las Vegas, Nev., where he reportedly had a fairly high paying job. “He had been laid off in 2008 and had moved back to Trinity to stay with his mother and step-father a few months before the shooting,” Dean said. The DA said that there had been a great deal of friction between Baker and his mother in the weeks leading up to the shooting. “I asked him why he did it and he told me that he just snapped,” Dean said. Indecency case In the second case, Wright entered guilty pleas to three charges stemming from incidents that occurred in Trinity in 2009 involving a nine-year-old girl. He was sentence to two 20-year prison terms on charges of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of a child. He also was given a 10-year sentence on an indecency with a child charge. All three sentences are to run concurrently. According to Assistant District Attorney Bennie Shiro, the victim’s father walked in on Wright exposing his sexual organs to the child on Dec. 4, 2009, and notified authorities. He was charged with indecency with a child at that time and the subsequent investigation lead to the filing of the sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault complaints.