Killer of grandmother learns he's to die, too

October 31, 1992|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

An East Baltimore man received a death sentence yesterday for robbing and gunning down a 49-year-old grandmother on a Westview Mall parking lot.

Wesley Baker, who was convicted Monday by a Harford Circuit jury that deliberated two hours, sat without emotion as Judge Cypert O. Whitfill signed the order for his execution. Death sentences automatically are reviewed by the state Court of Appeals.

Before rendering his decision,Judge Whitfill offered the defendant a final chance to speak to the court.

Baker's firm "No!" pierced the air in the hushed courtroom.

Judge Whitfill said he was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the 34-year-old Baker took Jane Tyson's purse, then shot her in front of two of her grandchildren on June 6, 1991.

Mrs. Tyson had gone to the mall with her 6-year-old grandson and 4-year-old granddaughter to buy a pair of shoes. She was fatally shot during a robbery that netted $10.

"People should be able to go shopping without fear of being robbedand having their brains blown out," Judge Whitfill said.

"Mrs. Tyson was no threat to Mr. Baker. She was as helpless a victim as possibly could have existed. The only possible motive [for Baker's shooting her] was to eliminate a witness to the crime."

Judge Whitfill also gave Baker two 20-year consecutive sentences for robbery and using a handgun in committing a felony.

John Tyson, the victim's husband, said he and other family members were satisfied that justice was served.

"We did not want vengeance, only justice," said Mr. Tyson.

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.

Mr. Tyson praised the efforts of Baltimore County State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor and Assistant State's Attorney Ann Brobst.

"I have great admiration for everyone involved, especially the Baltimore County police," he said. "And the true hero was Scott Faust."

Mr. Faust of Catonsville happened on the crime scene as Baker and Lawrence sped off in a blue Chevrolet Blazer. Mr. Faust chased them and returned to give police the tag number of the Blazer and descriptions of Baker and Lawrence.

"It all meshed to bring about justice," Mr. Tyson said. "I'm glad the judge agreed that this crime made no sense. Jane was no threat. She didn't have to die."

Baker becomes the 11th death row inmate in Maryland. The state has not carried out a death penalty sentence since June 9, 1961, when Nathaniel Lipscomb was executed in the gas chamber for rape and murder. Before 1956, those executed in Maryland were hanged.

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