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Augusta man convicted of rape, other charges Thursday

Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 6:55 PM
Last updated Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 7:46 AM
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A jury on Thursday convicted an Augusta man of crimes committed in a brutal attack on a couple that left them seriously injured.

Johnny L. Baker, 38, could spend the rest of his life in prison. The Richmond County Superior Court jury found Baker guilty of rape, aggravated sodomy, kidnapping, false imprisonment, burglary and two counts of aggravated assault.

Judge Daniel J. Craig delayed Baker’s sentencing to give attorneys time to prepare.

In his closing argument Thursday, Assistant District Attorney John Markwalter said Baker had become a sexual predator as he escalated from being a peeping Tom to sexual battery to rape and sodomy.

“His predatory conduct ends now with a guilty verdict,” Markwalter said.

On March 20, Baker crawled through a window of a woman’s home in the middle of the night. He beat her boyfriend with a weapon that the victim described as like a sawed-off broom handle – leaving knots on his head, welts on his neck and back, and breaking his hands, one so badly that he has undergone three surgeries.

Baker then went after the woman, dragging her by the hair into the living room, punching her in the face while holding a box cutter, and raping and sodomizing her. A bite on the side of her head left a large circular bruise and cut into her ear.

“These people are lucky to be alive,” Markwalter said. Neither could identify the masked attacker, but Baker’s DNA was collected through the rape kit, he said.

The woman also gave sheriff investigators a lead. Her attacker was wearing a black leather coat. She had seen a man living in the trailer park where she had recently moved who wore a similar coat. A DNA comparison to the rape kit proved Baker was the rapist, Markwalter said.

Defense attorney Peter Johnson attacked the validity of the DNA in the case, arguing that it wasn’t proof that they heard but a laboratory scientist’s opinion.

Johnson said he had called Sgt. Jim Gordon of the sheriff’s crime scene division to testify because no blood was detected on any of the items confiscated from Baker’s home – pants, black leather jacket, box cutter, stick and gloves.

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Dixieman 01/30/14 - 10:32 pm
I am really surprised...

...this guy did not plea bargain. You really cannot beat a DNA test -- you are either totally excluded or get something like a 99.9999% probability that it's you -- no other "middle ground" results are possible. And it is really hard to commit a crime these days without leaving some DNA at the scene -- even a tiny amount is sufficient to test and convict. Maybe he wasn't offered a plea. But I don't think it's a good defense argument that DNA lab test results are "just a scientist's opinion". The only way to counter it is to get your own expert and have him or her testify that the DNA test was not done properly.
Terrible horrible crime. Strange case.

jimmymac 01/31/14 - 01:59 pm

If I was the prosecutor and judge I wouldn't allow a plea for such a vicious crime. This sicko needs life in prison where maybe prison justice will catch up with him.

corgimom 02/01/14 - 12:28 pm
I hope he gets life without

I hope he gets life without parole.

galekey 02/02/14 - 03:15 am
too bad public hangings are

too bad public hangings are now illegal- he would draw a crowd. I would be there.
Horrible crimes deserve horrible punishment. Putting them in jail just means us taxpayers will be supporting him.

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