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Abusing family leads to prison

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A Spotsylvania County man will spend 18 years in prison for what prosecutors called “an exceptional case of domestic violence.”

Nicholas Roberto–Lara Baker, 25, pleaded guilty last week in Spotsylvania Circuit Court to four counts of abduction and two counts of family assault and battery—third or more offense. He was convicted in September of possession of a firearm by a violent convicted felon, possession of an explosive by a felon and felonious assault and battery on a family member.

Judge Joseph J. Ellis sentenced him on all nine charges to 65 years in prison, with all but 18 years suspended.

As part of a plea agreement, several other charges were dropped, including attempted capital murder, attempted murder and child cruelty.

The charges stem from an Aug. 29 incident that occurred on the 7800 block of Flippo Drive in the rural Guinea area of Spotsylvania. Baker signed a plea agreement that the victim and her three children, ages 4, 2 and 1, lived with him in a camper trailer with no working phone, water or electricity. She had a cellphone, but it did not get reception in that area. As a result, she did not have regular contact with anyone, not even her family.

She said on numerous occasions, Baker threatened to kill her and bury her where no one would find her.

On that day in August, she said Baker was upset because his scooter, his primary means of transportation, stopped working, and in his frustration, she said he hit the 1-year-old boy so hard that he suffered cranial bruising and a bloody nose.

When she went to help the boy, she said he began to beat her.

She said she and the three children were stuck in the trailer without medical attention.

On Aug. 30, she used her cellphone to take pictures of the injuries that she and the youngest child had from the assault the night before.

On Sept. 1, the victim’s mother came to pick her and the children up for church and saw the injuries and called for help.

According to the plea agreement, the 911 operator could not send help because of confusion about her address with computer records. The victim was referred to the magistrate’s office to file a complaint against Baker.

According to the plea agreement, the magistrate observed the bruised woman and infant, but instructed them to “come back on Tuesday” after the Labor Day holiday.

Frustrated by the inability to get a protective order from the magistrate, the victim received help from a domestic-violence advocacy group who put her in touch with Deputy Malisa Ridenour, a domestic-violence investigator with the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office.

Baker was arrested Sept. 5 and told Ridenour that he committed the assaults.

During the court hearing, Baker’s attorneys presented a number of letters from family members saying his behavior was out of character for him.

Prosecutors argued that a long sentence was necessary as Baker was a repeat offender and had brutally assaulted an infant.

The judge ordered that after his release, Baker is to have no contact with the victim or her children for the rest of his life.

“This was an exceptional case of domestic violence and was deserving of an exceptionally harsh punishment,” said Spotsylvania Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Matt Lowery.

Baker was represented by defense attorneys Terry Patton and Robert Hyman.

Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419