Roberta Baker, who was tried by the court Monday for the February 2018 death of her son, has been found guilty of Class B felony abuse or neglect resulting in death.
Circuit Court Judge Wendy Wexler Horn announced her ruling on Thursday afternoon.
Baker, who waived her right to a trial by jury, had been charged with Class A felony abuse or neglect of a child resulting in the death of her infant son, Elijah.
On Thursday, 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. “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.”
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The judge advised Baker that because Baker 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 A felony: 10 to 30 years or life in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Judge Horn ordered a sentencing assessment report to be completed by probation and parole. She scheduled Baker’s sentencing for July 19 at 8 a.m.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Courtney Goodwin said that even though Judge Horn found Baker guilty of the Class B Felony, rather than Class A, she still feels good about the case because Baker will still face the same range of punishment.
“This was a case where regardless of what happened no one really won because the child is still gone and there really is not anyone to get justice for,” said Goodwin.
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 she 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.
Matt McFarland is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616, or at email@example.com.