2013-11-14 / Front Page

Assault case ends in prison term

Local resident sentenced to up to 20 years, avoids life in prison

MANISTIQUE – A Manistique man will spend up to 20 years in prison following his sentencing in 11th Judicial Circuit Court last Thursday. A plea agreement assisted the man in avoiding potential life imprisonment.

Gordon Daniel Baker II, 36, 1509N W. Kendall Road, Manistique, had originally faced three charges in relation to an Aug. 28 incident at 226 Range St. In that incident, Manistique resident Michael Henry Chapek, 51, was injured.

On Thursday, Circuit Court Judge William Carmody sentenced Baker to 10 to 20 years in prison, with credit for 72 days served in the Schoolcraft County Jail.

Baker had earlier entered a guilty plea to a charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. Two other charges: first degree home invasion, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison; and assault with intent to commit murder, a felony punishable by up to life in prison, were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

In a separate case, involving multiple incidents in August, Baker pled guilty to home invasion, second degree; and breaking and entering. Carmody sentenced him to 10 to 20 years and 8 to 20 years in prison, respectively.

The remainder of the charges in this case, including two counts of larceny and one count of malicious destruction of personal property, was dismissed.

Baker was sentenced as a habitual offender, fourth offense, which increased his sentences, though a 20 year maximum sentence was part of the plea agreements. The sentences will be served concurrently.

Though Baker’s attorney, Kathryn Denholm, noted that his record was “fairly long”, she added that most the offenses were misdemeanors, and that his past was also plagued with a history of substance abuse problems, and traumatic personal experiences.

“Those things don’t excuse his behavior, but they could, perhaps, explain why he’s had so many difficulties functioning within the community,” she said.

Denholm suggested a 10-year minimum sentence for her client, while Schoolcraft County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Noble asked the judge for a minimum of 12 years.

“This is a defendant who has no care for what societal norms are,” he said. “A person that would do that is capable of doing a whole lot worse. And that’s why the only way we can protect Schoolcraft County … is by placing him in prison.”

Speaking in his own defense, Baker said he did not intend to harm Chapek during the assault incident. He noted he left the scene to go to a friend’s house and call the sheriff’s department to have them go make sure Chapek was okay.

Baker also said he plans to further his education and receive substance abuse counseling while incarcerated, so when he does get out, he will be able to obtain a job.

While Judge Carmody acknowledged Baker didn’t have the “best of lives” handed to him, he also reminded him of the seriousness of his crimes.

“There has to come a time, and, apparently, now this is the time, that you begin to realize that your behavior is unacceptable and … but for the grace of God, Mr. Chapek is still alive,” he said.

He also added that Baker must confront his substance abuse problem on his own, since “prison does not rehabilitate people”.

“If you don’t deal with that problem, you’re going to be in prison a lot longer,” he said.

Baker was ordered to pay a total of $798 in fines and costs, as well as $2,296.95 in restitution.

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