Saturday, December 21, 2013
Arkansas Man Receives Stiff Sentence for Accidental Shooting in Spite of His Blaming the Gun
Johnnie Carl Baker, 48, of Salesville, waits in Baxter County Circuit Court on Wednesday. Baker was sentenced to a total of 14 years in prison for the Nov. 12, 2012 shooting death of his best friend, Dennis Franklin Chapman. / Kevin Pieper/The Baxter Bulletin
The Baxter Bulletin
Even up to his sentencing Wednesday, Johnnie Carl Baker insisted the shooting death of Dennis Franklin Chapman was an accident. Baker pleaded guilty in Baxter County Circuit Court to a manslaughter charge, reduced from second-degree murder, and was sentenced to a total of 14 years in prison.
One of the conditions included in the manslaughter law refers to an individual who “recklessly causes the death of another person.” Bayless tried to explain to Baker that it meant he had improperly handled the rifle when Chapman was shot.
Baker still seemed confused and hesitant to acknowledge the allegations against him. Finally, Putman suggested putting Baker under oath and letting him explain what happened.
Baker told the court that the night of the incident he was wiping down the rifle with oil because it had rust spots. “While I was wiping it down with my shirt, it went off,” said Baker.
Putman asked him how the rifle discharged. “I was wiping it down and it went off,” said Baker. The incident initially was reported as an accidental shooting. However, investigators learned that Baker had loaded the rifle the day before the shooting.
They reported that Baker told them he’d thrown a Pepsi bottle to Chapman and told him he was going to shoot it, and the rifle discharged. Baker told investigators the rifle fired on its own.
This is known as the Arkansas defense although it's not limited to that one state. It usually works but not in this case.