Candace Beason, a visiting Lassen County Superior Court judge, sentenced Arik Baker, 49, to 61-years-to-life Monday, April 16 after the defendant unsuccessfully sought to fire his court-appointed attorney and withdraw his guilty pleas.
Dan A. Howe, a special prosecutor for the district attorney’s office, announced Baker had pleaded guilty to four felony counts with a stipulated sentence of 61-years-to-life Feb. 13. Included in that plea bargain was a waiver of any right to appeal.
Baker pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual penetration of a child 10 years old or younger resulting in two consecutive 15-years-to-life in state prison terms.
Baker also pleaded guilty to continuous sexual abuse, defined as three or more acts of “substantial sexual conduct” with a child under the age of 14 years resulting in an additional term of 16 years.
In addition, Baker plead guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child where the defendant is seven or more years older than the child, and the child is under the age of 14, where he committed rape, resulting in an additional term of 15-years-to-life.
But when he appeared for sentencing April 16, Baker tried to undo the entire court proceeding and start over.
Beason cleared the courtroom of everyone but Baker and his attorney, Joseph Landreth, to hear Baker’s Marsden claim. A Marsden motion provides the only means for a defendant to fire his court-appointed attorney or communicate directly with the judge in a California courtroom. In a Marsden motion, the defendant claims his attorney has provided ineffective counsel or has a conflict.
When the public returned to the courtroom, Beason denied the Marsden claim and said there was “absolutely no basis to support” Baker’s assertion that his attorney provided an inadequate defense or created a conflict in the case.
Beason then took up Baker’s attempt to undo his guilty pleas.
Baker told the judge his attorney explained the sentence to him “in a much different way,” and that he believed the sentences would be applied concurrently rather than consecutively when he signed the plea form.
Landreth said he thought he could get concurrent sentences in the case, but Howe would not agree to that.
“I was wrong,” Landreth said. “I told him (Baker) this was the only plea offered to him, and he accepted.”
Howe said he agreed with Landreth’s recollection of the negotiations.
Landreth said he saw no legal basis to file a motion to withdraw Baker’s pleas.
Beason said she saw no conflict, and there was no motion to withdraw the plea before the court.
She advised Baker he could hire his own counsel if he wanted to make such a motion.
Beason said she’d read the report from the probation department and found no legal cause the sentence should not be imposed, and she sentenced Baker to 61-years-to-life as agreed in the plea bargain.
She also ordered Baker to provide a DNA sample and fingerprints and imposed a $15,000 restitution fine along with other fines. She gave Baker 2,393 days credit — 1,197 days actually served and 1,796 conduct credit days to be applied to the determinate sentence, not the indeterminate sentence.
She also advised Baker he had 60-days to file any appeal in Lassen County Superior Court.
Howe read a statement from one of Baker’s victims who lamented how the person the family knew and loved turned out to be a completely different person.
One of Baker’s victims tearfully addressed the court, and she told Baker his molestation of her would not define her life.
“I am a survivor,” she said. “Part of my healing is knowing you’ll never hurt anyone else.”
She said Baker had her fooled, and over time his abuse of her began to feel normal. She said she would have acted sooner if she had known the truth, and she had so many questions a child should never have to worry about.
After the victim’s statements, Howe said without the plea bargain Baker could have faced as much as 100-years-to-life and there was no other offer made.
In addition, Howe noted Baker said he agreed to the plea bargain in order to save a victim from testifying, and Baker also gave up his right to appeal the case.
Howe said there was, “No problem with the case.”
“Everything that should be said has been said,” Landreth said.
Beason then dismissed the remaining counts against Baker.