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Trial begins for Wellsville man charged with rape, other charges – Morning Journal News

Aug 10, 2022
LISBON — A jury trial is expected to continue today for Mitchell Allen Baker, a man accused of beating his girlfriend, choking her twice into unconsciousness and forcing her to perform a sex act on him before she fled.
Baker, 27, whose address was listed as Wells Hollow Road, Wellsville, formerly of Haiti Road, Salineville, stands charged with a first-degree felony count of rape, a second-degree felony count of felonious assault and a misdemeanor of domestic violence for the incident that began the night of Oct. 15 and stretched into the early hours of Oct. 16 last fall.
Attorneys for both sides spent Tuesday morning picking a jury, selecting six men and six women to serve on the panel in the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court case against Baker, who is represented by defense attorney Joe King. County Assistant Prosecutor Steve Yacovone is handling the case for the state before Judge Megan Bickerton.
The female victim in the case testified as the first witness after opening arguments by the attorneys, describing how the defendant seemed to be a normal guy when their friendship became something more serious in August 2021, then they moved in together at the Haiti Road trailer in September 2021. Then on her birthday, on Oct. 11, 2021, she said he dragged her by her arm and pushed her off the porch, a moment she said was the first time he became violent with her.
Prior to their relationship, she had been seeing Gale Hilditch, who lived in Carroll County, for five years until they broke up in July 2021. She still talked to him occasionally because she had a horse at his property.
On Oct. 15, 2021, she said Baker came home from work and seemed more agitated than usual, drinking a tall boy beer. They went to the Dollar General in Salineville to get some movies and other items and her 7-year-old son was in the vehicle with them. After they left the store, she said he stopped the car between state Route 39 and Haiti Road and started yelling at her and said he was taking her back to Gale’s. On the way there, he stopped again at a field in Carroll County, trying to get her to fight him, pulling her out of the car.
When asked by Yacovone what he was saying, she said he told her “this is the last place you’re going to be seen.”
She started walking away and they ended up back in the car and he drove away, they went back to the field again and then he drove them back home to Haiti Road. He had taken her cell phone and put it in his pocket.
Once they were home, she put her son to bed and she went to lay down in the bedroom. That’s when she said Baker entered the room and punched the wall, then started smacking her in the head. In an attempt to get away from him, she pushed him and hit him in the groin, then he started punching her in the head repeatedly, ripping out the five earrings she had in each ear. In a soft voice, she said she was scared.
Next, she said he “dragged me in the kitchen by my hair” and started choking her. She fell unconscious on the floor and after she woke up, he was asking if she was ok, then he “choked me out again.”
That’s when she said he pulled his pants down and forced her to perform a sex act on him. Yacovone asked why she would not tell him no and she said she was scared.
“Did you feel like you had a choice?” he asked. “No,” was her reply.
After he went to sleep in the bedroom, she got her phone out of his pocket, grabbed her son and left. She had no shoes on and her child was only in his underwear. She called a friend who came to pick them up, left her child with the friend, and then went to East Liverpool City Hospital. A county sheriff’s deputy responded and she gave a verbal statement, pictures were taken of the injuries and after she left, she dropped off her written statement at the sheriff’s office, then drove to Carroll County to report the incident in the field and then went to Canton Aultman Hospital to do a rape kit.
After Baker was arrested at their residence and was in the county jail, he allegedly tried to contact her through the correction officers while she was working at the jail. She had no contact with him since the night of the incident and pointed him out in the courtroom.
During cross examination, King asked several questions about her relationship with Baker, how they met, who found the Haiti Road residence and who was driving the night of Oct. 15. King asked if she grabbed Baker’s private parts and she said “I didn’t grab them. He was standing on top of me and I struck him.” He also asked if she drank or had food after everything was over and she said she had water, but didn’t brush her teeth or shower.
During his opening argument, King told the jury, “There was no rape and there was no felonious assault.”
Yacovone asked the jury to “use reason and common sense.” He laid out the state’s case and said when the sheriff’s deputies went to the Haiti Road house to arrest Baker and told him it was for beating up the victim, he didn’t deny it.
In a recorded jail call by Baker, which was being played for the jury, Yacovone said “you’re going to hear the defendant say, yeah I hit her.” Other witnesses on the list included the first deputy at the hospital and the nurse who examined her.
mgreier@mojonews.com
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