AIKEN - Craig Baldwin pleaded guilty today to voluntary manslaughter in the death of his 83-year-old mother and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Second Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jack Early said he was accepting the plea deal reluctantly because the family of Dale Baldwin had agreed to it but that if the case had gone to trial and Mr. Baldwin had been convicted he would have sentenced him to life in prison.
Mr. Baldwin, 60, will be eligible for parole in 25 1/2 years.
Neighbors found Mrs. Baldwin's decomposing body on the front lawn of her York Street home on June 23, 2006. Authorities estimated that she had been dead for at least a week.
A day later, Mr. Baldwin walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding in Lexington, Ky., and Aiken detectives traveled there to question him.
He was not charged with his mother's death at the time, and after warrants for his arrest were issued he eluded authorities for about a week before he was captured at a hotel in Asheville, N.C.
Prosecutor Barbara Morgan said in court today that Mrs. Baldwin had been struck several times on the body with a baseball bat and had cuts around her throat. She also said that Mr. Baldwin had earlier withdrawn $20,000 from his mother's bank account without her knowledge.
Mrs. Baldwin had lived in Aiken only a short time, but she was well established in church and civic groups. Her acquaintances said at the time of her death that they knew little about her son, who lived with her.