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Patrick Baker, Sr.

Other Ohio exonerations with official misconduct
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On October 29, 2014, 41-year-old Patrick Baker Sr. was indicted by a Sandusky County, Ohio grand jury on charges of grand theft and complicity to burglary. The indictment said that on September 25, 2013, Baker helped two others, Shane Heberling and Joshua Shanahan, steal $13,000 and a class ring from Michael Pfeil in Fremont, Ohio.

When Sandusky County Sheriff’s Detective Sean O’Connell first questioned Heberling, Heberling named Baker’s son as one of his accomplices. But O’Connell told him he was wrong and to name Baker, so Heberling agreed to implicate Baker.

On April 9, 2015, Baker, who had no prior criminal record, went to trial in Sandusky County Court of Common Pleas. Heberling and Shanahan both testified that Baker set up the burglary and drove to Pfeil’s workplace to confirm he was at work on the night of the burglary.

On April 10, a jury convicted Baker of the charges and he was sentenced to five years in prison.

Heberling and Shanahan both pled guilty to burglary. Heberling was sentenced to four years in prison, and Shanahan was sentenced to two years in prison.

Baker appealed, arguing in part that the jury was not given proper instructions that it could find Baker guilty of a lesser charge. On May 20, 2016, the Court of Appeals of Ohio for the Sixth District agreed that the jury was erroneously instructed, reversed the conviction, and ordered a new trial.

On May 27, 2016, Baker was released on bond pending a retrial. On June 27, 2017, the prosecution dismissed the case.

In 2019, Baker filed a lawsuit seeking to be declared a wrongly convicted person under the Ohio Compensation Act. The lawsuit said that the lead detective in the case, Sean O’Connell, had instructed Heberling to implicate Baker even though Heberling said that Baker’s son was the person involved, not Baker Sr. By that time, O’Connell had pled guilty in 2018 to tampering with evidence in a murder investigation. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

On October 23, 2019, Sandusky Court of Common Pleas Judge Jeremiah Ray declared Baker a wrongly convicted individual. In December 2019, the state of Ohio awarded Baker $50,000 in compensation.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/20/2020
Last Updated: 5/20/2020
State:Ohio
County:Sandusky
Most Serious Crime:Burglary/Unlawful Entry
Additional Convictions:Theft
Reported Crime Date:2013
Convicted:2015
Exonerated:2019
Sentence:5 years
Race/Ethnicity:White
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:40
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No