McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

September 20, 2008

Baker cops a plea in murder

A Texas man who opted not to face a Pittsburg County jury on a charge of first-degree murder has been sentenced to life in prison.

Clint Edward Baker, 33 of Crockett, Texas, walked into a Pittsburg County District Courtroom on Thursday and pleaded no contest to the murder charge he faced in the brutal slaying of Todd Rich.

Rich’s body had been found on Krebs Lake Road area in March 2007.

He had been beaten and his throat had been cut, according to court documents. Both Rich and Baker were truck drivers.

After Baker pleaded “no contest” to the crime, Associate District Judge James Bland sentenced him to life in prison, based on a plea agreement with District 18 District Attorney Jim Bob Miller’s office.

By making the plea, Baker avoided the possibility of being sentenced to death by lethal injection if he had been convicted of the murder.

Prosecutors had filed a bill of particulars serving notice they intended to seek the death penalty in the case. Bland dismissed the bill of particulars during the plea hearing on a motion from the district attorney’s office.

Baker now faces the possibility of someday winning parole from prison — since he also avoided a possible sentence of life without the parole if had been convicted by a jury.

The body of Rich, of California, had been found on the night of March, 17, 2007, according to an affidavit filed in the case by Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Agent John Jones.

Rich’s battered, bloody body had been left on the road, according to investigators. He had been 42 at the time of the murder.

During the plea hearing, First Assistant District Attorney Richard Hull and Wade Dodson represented the state.

Baker appeared with attorney Jeff Belote. Attorneys Jeremy Beaver and Belote have represented Baker during pre-trial hearings.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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