Man sentenced to prison out of gun incident

A Lowell man with former felony convictions was sentenced Thursday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to two and a half years in prison for wielding a gun he was not allowed to have.

Charles W. Baker III, 41, of 435 Francis Road, had previously pleaded guilty as charged to a third-degree felony count of having weapons while under a disability.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office was called to Baker’s home July 8, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Jared Erb.

“The sheriff’s office had received a call that he was intoxicated, and he had taken a gun from a family member and had wandered off into the woods,” said Erb.

According to the narrative, family members were worried that Baker was suicidal, he said.

Baker’s attorney, Randall Jedlink, said in court Thursday that Baker had been intending to shoot coyotes.

“He wasn’t threatening anybody with the gun or anything like that,” he said.

Regardless of his intended use for the gun, Baker was not allowed to have it because of prior felony convictions, which included burglary and gross sexual imposition, said Erb.

Erb said he felt a prison sanction was appropriate, but a lengthy one would not benefit Baker.

“The nature of this crime is the defendant has mental health issues, was possibly suicidal. I don’t know if a lengthy commitment somewhere, either in jail or prison, is really of benefit to anyone,” he said.

As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution agreed not to oppose judicial release for Baker after he served six months. After that, he will be eligible to enter the SEPTA Correctional Facility, where he could get counseling.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane questioned a 2007 warrant out of Morgan County for Baker’s arrest that still showed up on his criminal record. An active warrant would prevent Baker from being granted judicial release, he said.

“I took care of all that stuff in Morgan County,” protested Baker.

Lane confirmed that the warrant was no longer active and agreed he would consider judicial release after six months, but added that his decision would depend largely on Baker’s behavior while incarcerated.

“He’s been basically lifelong involved with ignoring the law,” said Lane.

Lane pointed to an alcohol problem as the root.

“You need to get a hold of your drinking and your alcohol,” he said.

Baker was charged in Marietta Municipal Court out of the same incident with a first-degree misdemeanor count of using weapons while intoxicated.

Lane ordered a 30-month prison sentence-six months shy of the maximum-and reiterated that Baker’s behavior would dictate the possibility of judicial release and a transfer to SEPTA.