By Meladi Brewer
DARKE COUNTY — After a a little over an hour and a half deliberation, the jury found Dean M. Baker guilty of all three charges against him. Judge Douglas M. Rastatter presided.
The State Prosecutor Deborah Quigley and Defense Attorney Patrick Mulligan presented their closing arguments before the jury was released for deliberation. Judge Rastatter advised the jury that closing remarks are in no way evidence, but rather a summary of the evidence that has already been presented. They were advised to not take it as fact.
Quigley said that she believed the state proved, without a doubt, that Baker willingly and knowingly tampered with evidence, a felony of the third degree; abused a corpse, a felony of the fifth degree; and proved without a doubt that Baker committed murder, an unclassified felony with a gun specification.
“After seven days of testimony, the defendant finally said ‘yes I did this. I, Dean Baker, on Aug. 7 – Aug. 20th in Darke County, OH did knowing that an official investigation was about to be in progress and likely be in instituted, did destroy, and conceal, and remove a thing with the purpose to impair with value or availability in that investigation,” Quigley said.
She said he also admitted that he did, without legal authorization, treat a human corpse in a way that would outrage reasonable community sensibilities. Not only did Baker testify his guilt, the state proved without a reasonable doubt that his pleading was true, thus leaving the murder charge to be proven.
“He has also told you that he did purposefully cause the death of Corey Fleming and that he used a firearm,” Quigley said.
She said this claim was not disputed either, but what was disputed was self-defense. The state believed the testimony and evidence showed Baker did not act in self-defense.
“Nothing about those actions that he did on Aug. 7th into the 8th when he raised his firearm, looked Corey in the face, and shot -like that,” Quigley said.
Quigley brought up the various stories and scenarios Baker had brought up during the investigation and while he was in jail saying Baker told the court exactly why he lied.
“Everything I do or say, lie. Which I hate. I do to benefit or benefit from the situation to fix, repair a damaged situation or reputation,” Quigley quoted. “I guess that’s how I look out for myself.”
Quigley stressed Baker “lies. He lies, he lies, and he lies. To benefit himself.” She claimed what Baker said and did proves this case was not self-defense. She claims he never gave them the truth, except maybe when he saw his female friend where he tells her he “sacrificed his only male friend to Lucifer. He shot him in the kitchen.”
“He’s denied it repeatedly that it wasn’t self-defense. Nope, didn’t happen that way. Nope, Corey never had a gun, he never did that,” Quigley said.
Quigley said Baker got on the stand and lied. To benefit himself.
“This is not a self-defense case. This is cold-blooded murder,” Quigley said.
Mulligan addressed the definition of the self-defense statutes and explained to the jury what they had to prove in order to find him guilty during his closing argument. He said the state would have had to show one of five things to prove it wasn’t self-defense.
Baker is at fault in creating the situation giving rise to the incident.
They have to prove Baker did not have reasonable grounds to believe he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.
Baker did not have an honest belief, even if mistaken, that he was in imminent danger or bodily harm.
Baker could not have avoided such actions and used excessive force.
Baker was not in a place where he was lawfully or had a right to be.
If the jury finds Baker guilty of any of these concepts, the case is not deemed self-defense. Mulligan also reminded the court of the fingerprints on the gun. The victim’s fingerprints were found on the magazine of the gun, in the house, but it is hard knowing when the victim would have handled the gun because fingerprints do not stay on the grip very well.
“The government, they’re reliant on beliefs, speculation, ridicule, on what they believe is Baker’s lack of intelligence and certainly lack of legal knowledge to convince you that this was not a self-defense case,” Mulligan said.
He said it is not the standard upon which to judge the case. Before wrapping up his closing argument, he said Baker asked the jury to judge this case based on the facts opposed to his best handling of the situation and ridicule he suffered because of it.
Quigley redirected saying in order to believe Baker acted in self-defense, they themselves would have to believe Baker’s final version of the story.
“You will have to believe a man who lies to benefit himself,” Quigley said.
She told the court they would have to believe a man who allegedly acted in self-defense and proceeded to tamper with evidence and abuse a corpse. She made the statement that they would have to find that a reasonable man, who claimed self-defense, would begin to wrap his best friend in saran wrap after shooting him and take the body outside “as quickly as possible” to later bury it.
“This is a man who purposely killed. This is a man who then tried his best, and then when he was left with only one option -he’s going to get up here and lie to you,” Quigley said.
The jury advised the court at 11:45 a.m., June 9, 2023, that they found Dean Baker, without a doubt, guilty of the murder of Corey Fleming with a gun. Baker was sentenced to the maximum penalty by the state of Ohio.
He will serve a total indefinite term of 22 years to life in prison: 15 years to life on the murder charge plus three years for the gun specification, 36 months for tampering with evidence, and 12 months for abuse of the corpse. If Baker so decides, he will have to appeal conviction.