WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A former Winston-Salem police officer was convicted Monday of pulling a gun on a man, robbing him of $70, threatening to kill him and forcing him into a bathroom at gunpoint, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.
Robert Lee Baker, 40, was a Winston-Salem police officer for six years until he was fired in 2012 over allegations that he falsified hours he worked as an off-duty security guard. In February 2013, he pleaded guilty to two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses stemming from those allegations and entered into a deferred prosecution program.
Because of Monday’s conviction, prosecutors will likely seek to have Baker sentenced on those two charges.
Around 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 23, 2013, according to testimony, Baker pulled a gun on Severiano Jimenez Maya at his apartment and robbed him of about $70 and a canister containing change.
A Forsyth County jury found Baker guilty of armed robbery, second-degree kidnapping, felonious entering, carrying a concealed weapon and communicating a threat. The jury deliberated about an hour and 45 minutes before reaching a unanimous verdict.
Baker also was initially charged with first-degree burglary and impersonating a law enforcement officer, but both charges were voluntarily dismissed. Paul James, Baker’s attorney, said after the hearing the charges were dismissed because there was not enough evidence to support them.
Judge Richard Stone of Forsyth Superior Court consolidated the charges into one and sentenced Baker to four years and three months to six years and two months in prison.
Last week, Maya testified that he was sitting on his couch in his upstairs apartment, with his door open because of the heat, when Baker came in.
Maya said Baker asked for a man named Benitez, and when Maya told him that Benitez didn’t live there, Baker told him he was a police officer, pulling up his shirt to show a gun tucked in his waist. Baker then closed the door, pointed the gun at Maya and demanded money, Maya said. When Maya told Baker he didn’t have any money, Baker said he didn’t believe him and that he would kill him if Maya didn’t give him money, Foster said in closing arguments.
Maya went into his bedroom and got about $70 and gave it to Baker.
“I know you have more,” Baker said, according to Foster. “Give it to me or I’ll kill you.”
Maya said he gave him the canister containing change and that Baker ordered him into the bathroom, threatening to kill Maya if he didn’t do as told.
Maya’s identification of Baker was the main issue during the trial.
James argued that Maya and another witness, Julie Adams, were mistaken in their identification of Baker. James also questioned the circumstances of Maya’s initial identification because an officer brought him to where Baker was arrested shortly after the robbery. James argued that one of the officers told Maya that they might have gotten the man who robbed him and wanted Maya to go to the scene to take a look.
When Maya got to the scene, James argued, there was lots of police cars flashing lights and Baker was handcuffed and the only person not in uniform. Baker was also wearing a black shirt, even though Maya had told officers that Baker was wearing a white T-shirt.
Adams told authorities that Baker had come by her place on Electric Drive, wearing a black shirt and posing as a bails bondsman. The encounter happened about 20 minutes before the robbery. James argued that it made no sense that Baker would change shirts between meeting Adams and robbing Maya.