Man gets 6 years in prison for 2009 Forbestown attack
A man was sentenced on Wednesday in Butte County Superior Court to six years in state prison for attacking a man in Forbestown in 2009.
Butte County Superior Court Judge James Reilley sentenced Joseph Paul Baker for a felony count of assault with a deadly weapon. The prison term includes a three-year enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury on Rigoberto Lopez of Forbestown.
Baker had faced additional felony counts of second-degree robbery and possessing a firearm following a prior conviction, but they were dismissed when he changed his plea on Oct. 25.
The prosecution alleged Baker and a then-17-year-old boy severely beat Lopez on Nov. 5, 2009, for reportedly stealing Baker's medical marijuana. The defendants reportedly dragged the victim across New York Flat Road and lashed him to a pole in front of the Forbestown Museum.
Before the judge handed down his sentence, defense attorney Craig Leri asked the judge to find it was an unusual case and place Baker on probation.
Leri said Baker and Lopez did get into a fight at a party next to Baker's residence. Afterward, Baker told the homeowner to call police and took the victim across the street.
What happened next, according to Leri, is that the homeowner didn't call the police and a drug dealer who originally took Lopez to the party returned about four hours later and attacked Lopez.
Leri acknowledged it would have been difficult to explain the second attack to a jury if the case went to trial. He said it's not a question of the severity of the attack, but whether Baker did enough to justify a prison term.