Couple starts serving sentences this week

Friday, December 7, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A young Lewisburg couple started serving jail sentences this week after being sentenced in Circuit Court.

Katherine "Katie" Baker, 24, made an open plea to multiple indictments earlier this fall, and had a sentencing hearing Wednesday,

Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard told the court, "You have five cases here: six sales of a controlled substance...slightly under half a pound total. The Drug Task Force spent $1,370 with her" in March and April.

Crystal Gray of the Board of Probation and Parole, who prepared Baker's pre-sentence report, testified Baker never told law enforcement where she got the marijuana she was selling.

"What I chose to do brought no harm to anyone," Baker told Gray, adding that she did it because she needed the money. Baker admitted using marijuana since she was 15 years old, and told Gray she thought she could never pass a drug test because she had used marijuana so much over the years.

"The punishment should be no more than necessary," said Barnard. "But she shouldn't just walk away."

Barnard scoffed at the idea Baker was selling marijuana to keep her family together.

"She was using, too, and marijuana isn't free," he exclaimed. "She does not show amenability for rehabilitation. Her history speaks for itself."

Baker's attorney, Rob Dalton of Lewisburg, conceded Baker did not qualify for judicial diversion, but asked for a full probationary sentence. He said Baker was the victim of entrapment because agents of the Drug Task Force repeatedly telephoned her asking to buy marijuana.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler dismissed this idea, stating, "It's easy to say no." He noted her poor work history (the only job listed in the pre-sentence report is five months as a substitute teacher) and "long history of criminal conduct."

"A split sentence is appropriate," said the judge, giving Baker an effective sentence of two years, of which she must serve 120 days. Once she is released from jail, Baker will be on community corrections, a strict form of probation. She was also ordered to pay $12,250 in fines.

Baker has been confined in the Marshall County Jail before. In 2008 she served a 90-day sentence for theft.

The father of Baker's child, her fiance` Brian J. Wilcox, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of sale of marijuana, and was sentenced to one year and six months in jail, of which, as a Range I standard offender, he must serve at least 30 percent before being eligible for a parole board hearing. Wilcox was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.

According to testimony heard in court, Wilcox is applying for disability, and when Crigler asked if he had taken any medicines that day, Wilcox shook a plastic bag of full of prescription bottles to show that he had.

The judge had some doubt about Wilcox's answers to the standard questions for a plea acceptance hearing, and when questioned, Wilcox said, "I just say 'yes sir' 'cause I know what's coming. I'd rather just get to the jail."

"It's obvious to the whole courtroom you're being disrespectful," Crigler said, and attorney Stephanie Barca of the Public Defender's Office held a whispered conversation with Wilcox before the hearing continued.

Also sentenced Wednesday was John Docherty, 47, who pleaded guilty to a charge of theft over $10,000. Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles said on March 20 a home on Powell Lane was broken into and a large amount of personal property, including jewelry, was stolen. The same day, Coffee County Sheriff's Department was investigating a burglary which included the theft of an iPad. The stolen iPad had a tracking program installed, and it led officers to a motel room where they found Docherty, the iPad, and other stolen property, including items from Powell Lane.

"Is that in fact what happened?" asked Crigler.

"I was found in possession of the stolen property, yes," Docherty replied, without admitting the theft.

He was sentenced to four years at 30 percent, but this will run consecutive to his sentence from Coffee County.