Sunday, September 27, 2015

Dad gets probation--despite destruction of property, violating protection order after abusing son (Laramie, Wyoming)

Typical of how men's crimes against women and children are not taken seriously. Had he behaved like this towards a male employer, you wouldn't see this indulgence.

Dad is identified as JOSHUA S. BAKER.

Joshua Baker gets probation for child abuse

CHEYENNE - Despite being arrested for property destruction and violating a protection order while out on bond in a child abuse case, Joshua S. Baker has been given a chance at probation.

Laramie County District Judge Catherine Rogers told Baker during his sentencing hearing Thursday that his conduct on bond was completely unacceptable, and his lack of appreciation for court orders "has to stop."

If it doesn't, she cautioned, she'll send him to prison where he won't have a choice or a voice.

For three counts of child abuse, Rogers sentenced Baker to five years of probation with an underlying prison term of three to five years and ordered him to complete the Intensive Supervision Program.

The judge said she believes Baker can build and provide a stable, secure future for his children, and prison won't accomplish that or make him a better, less-violent person and father.

Baker, 25, was charged in early April with one count of physical child abuse for injuring a young boy. He also was charged with two counts of mental child abuse for injuring the boy and his younger sister.

When he admitted to the crimes in late May, he said he became upset with the boy after sending him upstairs to use the bathroom and later finding feces going from the stairs to the bathroom.

Baker's leg shackles jingled as he walked to the podium and stood before the judge dressed in nice jeans, a tan suit coat, a blue checkered button-down shirt and a tie.

He's been in jail for more than 50 days since violating a protection order in August.

"I've done things over the past few months that I regret," he told the judge, getting emotional when saying the time he's spent in jail is time he'll never get back. "I just want an opportunity to salvage what I still have left in my life."

Baker's boss, a tearful longtime friend and a family friend all spoke on his behalf, calling him a good, selfless person and saying his recent actions are uncharacteristic.

His attorney, Christopher Humphrey, said the contact that resulted in the protection order violation charge was consensual, but that didn't make it any less wrong.

Baker learned in jail that he is not meant for incarceration and will do everything in his power to not be in that position again, Humphrey stressed.

"He just wants to be a citizen in this community who is a good father," he said.

The District Attorney's Victim/Witness Services coordinator, Mellissa Walls, read a letter in court written by the children's mother.

"I feel like I have failed my children by not being strong enough to leave," she wrote, saying she felt scared and powerless and focused on mending her relationship. "I put my love and trust in the wrong person."

Laramie County District Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg told the judge he wouldn't completely back out of the plea agreement in light of the bond violation, though he could.

He said the prosecutor who initially worked the case contemplated giving Baker first-offender treatment because of his immediate cooperation, which would have allowed him the possibility of keeping a felony conviction off his record if he completed probation.

After Baker violated his bond in April by being arrested for property destruction and trespassing, the prosecution entered into a plea agreement that suggested the suspended prison term that Rogers accepted.

Sandburg continued, saying he thinks Baker is in a downward spiral and something needs to be done to cut it off.

Rogers hopes that "something" will be the Intensive Supervision Program.

She told Baker she immediately was struck when reviewing his file by how "pretty full of (himself)" he seemed.

She said Baker didn't graduate high school but managed to land a high-paying job , making significantly more than many attorneys in this community.

"You were at the top of the mountain looking down," the judge told him, adding that Baker was 24 going on 25 and had the world in the palm of his hand.

While the time Baker spent in jail was minor compared to many other defendants, Rogers said she hopes and believes it has motivated him to grow up, recognize his obligations to his kids and family and get his anger and impulse issues under control.

Her last warning to Baker was that while he doesn't seem used to people telling him what to do, "it's coming" in the form of intensive supervision.

"I understand," he responded softly.