Heroin dealer sen­tenced to time served in or­der to pur­sue re­cov­ery

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By CARL HAMIL­TON ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

ELK­TON — Nathan Tyler Baeder wound up in jail on Feb. 20 af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tors found and con­fis­cated a loaded hand­gun that was stashed in­side his shoe and heroin that was in­side his pock­ets dur­ing a traf­fic stop near Elk­ton.

For Elk­ton-area res­i­dent Baeder, 18, it marked a turn­ing point.

“My client didn’t even know he was ad­dicted to heroin un­til he got locked up and went through with­drawal in the jail. He had just turned 18 three months ear­lier,” his Elk­ton-based de­fense lawyer Wil­liam F. Rid­dle said. “In his (pre­sen­tenc­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion) re­port that’s what he told the in­ves­ti­ga­tor.”

Baeder ad­mit­ted that he “sells heroin” dur­ing an in­ter­view with the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer, Deputy Charles Travis of the Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, af­ter the traf­fic stop at the in­ter­sec­tion of Elk­ton Road and Belle Hill Road at about 8:30 p.m. Feb. 20, po­lice said.

In ad­di­tion, po­lice added, Baeder told Travis that he had bought the sil­ver hand­gun for $50 ap­prox­i­mately three weeks ear­lier. That loaded gun was found in­side his right shoe, po­lice noted. Baeder was a front-seat pas­sen­ger in a Honda that Travis stopped at that in­ter­sec­tion be­cause the driver, who was not charged, al­legedly failed to use his turn sig­nal, po­lice re­ported.

Be­cause he smelled what he be­lieved was mar­i­juana com­ing from the Honda, the deputy or­dered Baeder and the driver out of the car so he could search them and the ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to court records, which in­di­cate that CCSO Dfc. Joseph Brewer, who is with the agency’s K-9 Unit, as­sisted at the scene.

Dur­ing a pat-down search of Baeder, in­ves­ti­ga­tors found a green Crown Royal bag hold­ing sev­eral pack­ets of heroin, in ad­di­tion to loose pack­ets con­tain­ing that drug in­side one of his jacket pock­ets, ac­cord­ing to court records.

Rid­dle told the Ce­cil Whig on Wed­nes­day that his client sold heroin only to sup­port his ad­dic­tion and that he pos­sessed the gun solely for pro­tec­tion, be­cause of the in­her­ent dan­gers as­so­ci­ated with his il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties to feed his habit.

Fac­ing nine crim­i­nal charges, in­clud­ing heroin dis­tri­bu­tion while pos­sess­ing a firearm and pos­ses­sion of heroin with in­tent to dis­trib­ute, Baeder re­mained in the Ce­cil County De­ten­tion Cen­ter for 43 days in lieu of $50,000 bond — un­til his bail re­view hear­ing in early April.

That’s when Ce­cil County Cir­cuit Court Judge Brenda A. Sex­ton al­lowed Baeder’s re­lease from jail — with the caveat that he went di­rectly into res­i­den­tial drug treat­ment. It was part of an agree­ment marked by mon­i­tor­ing and other con­di­tions, in­clud­ing that Baeder get a job once he reached out­pa­tient sta­tus, which he re­cently hon­ored.

Baeder spent the next three and a half months in Florida, where he suc­cess­fully com­pleted an in-pa­tient sub­stance abuse treat­ment pro­gram and then was per­mit­ted to live in a half­way house, Rid­dle said. Af­ter­ward, he added, Baeder was al­lowed to re­turn to Ce­cil County to con­tinue his treat­ment.

The teen was so com­mit- ted to main­tain­ing his so­bri­ety that he left one area treat­ment cen­ter and ad­mit­ted him­self to a West­ern Mary­land fa­cil­ity, where he spent 30 more days re­ceiv­ing help, ac­cord­ing to Rid­dle.

“Nathan didn’t think that the pa­tients at the (first) fa­cil­ity he went to were tak­ing their treat­ment se­ri­ously, and he was afraid he might fall back into it (heroin use) again,” Rid­dle ex­plained.

On Aug. 21, still drug-free and still un­der­go­ing treat­ment and coun­sel­ing, Baeder pleaded guilty to pos­ses­sion of heroin with in­tent to dis­trib­ute and pos­ses­sion of a hand­gun by a mi­nor, as part of a plea deal in which pros­e­cu­tors dropped all re­main­ing charges. Rid­dle and Deputy State’s At­tor­ney Karl H. Fock­ler had ne­go­ti­ated the plea agree­ment.

That set the stage for Baeder’s sen­tenc­ing on Tues­day, when his rel­a­tives and friends filled the pews on one side of the court­room in sup­port of him. More­over, sev­eral of those peo­ple had submitted sup­port­ive let­ters to the court for the judge’s con­sid­er­a­tion at sen­tenc­ing. Rid­dle pro­duced cer­tifi­cates re­flect­ing Baeder’s suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of his drug treat­ment pro­grams.

Nev­er­the­less, while ac­knowl­edg­ing that Baeder had, in­deed, made progress, Fock­ler sought an 18-month term for Baeder at the county jail. He rec­om­mended a 10-year sen­tence with 8½ years sus­pended on the heroin con­vic­tion and a con­sec­u­tive, sus­pended five-year sen­tence on the firearm con­vic­tion.

In mak­ing his rec­om­men­da­tion, Fock­ler said he con­sid­ered Baeder’s young age and his lack of prior con­vic­tions. The pros­e­cu­tor also re­ported that state sen­tenc­ing guidelines, which are based on a de­fen­dant’s crim­i­nal record and other fac­tors, set a penalty range of six months to three years of ac­tive in­car­cer­a­tion for Baeder.

“He is seek­ing re­cov­ery and has cer­tainly taken steps. But, de­spite that fact, there needs to be pun­ish­ment for his crime, which in­volved a loaded hand­gun. We also have a duty to pro­tect the pub­lic,” Fock­ler com­mented, ex­plain­ing that pun­ish­ment, safe­guard­ing the com­mu­nity and de­ter­rence are the goals of sen­tenc­ing.

Lean­ing to­ward Rid­dle’s rec­om­men­da­tion, how­ever, Sex­ton im­posed a 10-year sen­tence on Baeder — still re­port­edly drug-free and re­ceiv­ing treat­ment — for his heroin with in­tent to dis­trib­ute con­vic­tion and then sus­pended all but the 43 days that he had spent in jail af­ter his ar­rest.

In ad­di­tion, Sex­ton im­posed a con­sec­u­tive three­year sen­tence, which she also sus­pended, for Baeder’s gun con­vic­tion.

“The judge was will­ing to take a chance on him,” Fock­ler sum­ma­rized.

Sex­ton also or­dered Baeder to serve four years of su­per­vised pro­ba­tion, list­ing sev­eral con­di­tions, in­clud­ing that he at­tend four Nar­cotics Anony­mous meet­ings per week and that he con­tinue with his sub­stance abuse treat­ment and coun­sel­ing.

“The judge hung 13 years over his head, mi­nus the 43 days he al­ready served, so if he messes up, that’s what he could re­ceive,” Rid­dle said, adding, “But he has plenty of sup­port, and Nathan is very com­mit­ted to his so­bri­ety. My client is cer­tainly glad about the sen­tence he re­ceived, but this has been an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for him — get­ting ar­rested, go­ing to jail, go­ing to court and get­ting sen­tenced.”

BAEDER

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