'Sucker punch' suspect Barry Baker heads to trial after plea confusion

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 07:10PM
'Sucker punch' suspect Barry Baker heads to trial after plea confusion: John Rawlins reports on Action News at 5 p.m., September 20, 2017

WEST CHESTER, Pa. - It was a case of confusion in a West Chester courtroom Wednesday where Barry Baker Jr. was expected to enter a guilty plea to charges he punched a 21-year old disabled man.

The case, however, was thrown into turmoil when Baker said he disagreed with a summary of the case read by the judge.

In an afternoon hearing, a second attempt for an open guilty plea failed. A trial is set to begin on Monday.

Prosecutors say Baker was caught on surveillance video attacking the victim outside a 7-Eleven convenience store in West Chester back in May.

The District Attorney says Baker was arrested for assault. Once out on bail, more warrants were issued and that's when authorities say Baker led them a on a two-week manhunt.

It all began around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 10, outside a 7-Eleven on the 200 block of South High Street.

VIDEO: Man with cerebral palsy mocked, punched in West Chester
RAW VIDEO: Disabled man assaulted in West Chester

Surveillance video showed a 22-year-old man with cerebral palsy pulling up to the store in a white SUV.

That's when a man in a yellow sweatshirt, identified by investigators as 29-year-old Baker of Georgetown, Delaware, appeared to mock the victim after he went inside.

A few minutes later, the victim walked out of the store and the suspect apparently mocked him again.

The suspect then followed the victim into the parking lot and punched the man in the face.

The victim stumbled backwards over the hood of his SUV as the man identified as Baker walked away.

The 22-year-old victim composed himself, got into his vehicle, and drove away. Police say he then contacted police.

Following the release of the surveillance video, Barry Baker Jr. was arrested and charged with simple assault and related crimes.

Nearly a month later, on Tuesday, June 27, Baker Jr.'s fiancee Denise Schmidt was arrested. She was charged with hindering apprehension.

On that same day, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced 46 people were charged in Operation Wildfire, an 8-week-long investigation targeting street-level heroin and opioid dealers.

Among the nearly four dozen arrested was Barry Baker Sr., the father of the suspect in the West Chester attack.

"So while his son was beating up a man with a disability, Barry Baker, Sr. was selling us morphine. It's a heck of a family," Hogan said.

RELATED: 46 charged, including dad of punching suspect, in undercover drug bust in Chester Co.

Barry Baker, Jr. / Denise Schmidt / Barry Baker, Sr.


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