Baker guilty in slaying of grandmother at mall HARFORD COUNTY

October 27, 1992|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

A Harford Circuit Court jury deliberated two hours before returning guilty verdicts on all counts last night in the trial of Wesley Baker, the East Baltimore man accused of robbing and killing a 49-year-old grandmother in front of her two grandchildren on a Westview Mall parking lot.

The victim, Jane Tyson, died of a gunshot wound to the head on June 6, 1991. She had gone to the mall to buy a pair of shoes.

The 34-year-old Baker, dressed in charcoal slacks and a black and tan shirt open at the collar, stood emotionless as the verdicts were announced. He showed no remorse, sitting at the trial table as the jury was polled on each of five counts.

He was found guilty of premeditated and deliberate murder and felony murder in the first degree. The jury also found that the defendant was a principal in the murder of Mrs. Tyson, that he was guilty of robbery with a dangerous and deadly weapon and that he used a handgun in the commission of a felony.

Baker's accomplice, Gregory Lawrence of Woodlawn, was convicted and sentenced in January to life plus 33 years for his role in the murder and robbery which police said netted $10.

Court testimony indicated that Lawrence, 35, was the driver and Baker was the passenger in a blue Chevrolet Blazer that was used as the get-away vehicle.

In yesterday's closing statements, Baltimore County State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor and her assistant Ann Brobst asked the jury to use common sense in finding Mr. Baker guilty of first-degree murder and robbery.

Defense attorney Roger Galvin had asked the jury to consider that not one of the state's witnesses had seen Mr. Baker shoot Mrs. Tyson, that no fingerprints were found on the murder weapon that was recovered from between the front bucket seats of the blue Blazer and that forensic tests offered no proof that Baker had recently fired a weapon.

Mr. Galvin also claimed that forensic experts could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that blood on Mr. Baker's clothing was Mrs. Tyson's, or how it got there. He called the prosecutors' case a 50-50 coin flip.

"Did Gregory Lawrence shoot Mrs. Tyson, or was it Wesley Baker?" he asked.

In rebuttal, Mrs. O'Connor called Mr. Baker's actions callous, self-centered and greedy. She said Mr. Baker took a life so he could eliminate the only person who could identify him.

"Don't forget that Mr. Baker's fingerprints were the only ones found on the window of Mrs. Tyson's car," she said. "Common sense says it was Mrs. Tyson's blood on his sock and pants leg."

The penalty phase of the trial is scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow. .

Prosecutors said they are seeking the death penalty or life in prison without parole. A third option, life in prison, also is possible.

Baker's attorneys have not yet elected whether they will have Judge Cypert O. Whitfill or the jury determine their client's sentence.

Because Mr. Galvin has another commitment tomorrow afternoon, Mrs. O'Connor said that the sentencing phase may continue into Thursday.

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