A woman accused of causing the death of her newborn child appeared before Circuit Judge Wendy Wexler Horn on Friday for sentencing.
Roberta Baker, 38, currently incarcerated at Vandalia Correctional Center, was sentenced to 20 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Baker, who was tried by bench trial on May 13 at the St. Francois County Courthouse for the February 2018 death of her son, was found guilty of Class B Felony abuse or neglect resulting in death on May 16.
Baker had initially been charged and tried for Class A Felony abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death.
Judge Horn told Baker that when she had heard the testimony and heard evidence, she had no doubt that Baker was guilty of a terrible crime, but her delay had come from not knowing exactly which crime it was. Judge Horn continued to say that under the elements of law, she did not believe she could find Baker guilty of the Class A Felony, but instead she believed Baker was guilty of Class B Felony abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death.
“I relied heavily on the medical evidence in reaching my verdict in this case,” said Judge Horn on the day of the verdict rendering. “I don’t feel that the medical evidence was enough to rise to the level of Class A Felony, but definitely is enough for the Class B Felony.”
Horn advised Baker that because she is a prior and persistent offender, she will still face the same range of punishment for the Class B Felony as she would have for the Class B, 10 to 30 years to life in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Baker was arrested for the death of her son, Elijah, on Feb. 23, 2018. Baker gave birth to her son at home and initially told investigators that she had given birth just a few hours prior to the 911 call of infant in full arrest.
In a second interview, Baker then confessed that she had given birth to the child in the early morning hour of Feb. 22 and that she had no gone to the hospital or requested help because she had active arrest warrants and didn’t want to return to prison.
It was determined during the trial, based on Baker’s testimony that had known she was pregnant. It was also argued by the prosecution that she had also known the baby was premature. In addition, Baker had admitted to using meth during her pregnancy and the toxicology report on the infant child revealed meth in his system.