By Patsy R. Brumfield and JB Clark /NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – The man charged with the 2011 shooting death of a New Albany school district employee, who was the wife of a high school coach, pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder, receiving a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
By doing so, 22-year-old Craig O’Brien Baker avoids a trial for capital murder and a possible death sentence.
Baker will be eligible for parole at age 65. If paroled, Baker will then serve a 20-year sentence for aggravated assault.
He pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated assault, two charges of burglary of an auto, each with a seven-year sentence, and two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, each with a 10-year sentence.
The sentences for burglary of an auto and possession of a firearm will be served concurrently with the 20-year aggravated assault sentence. The 20-year sentence is to be served congruently, or after, the life-sentence for murder.
Baker was originally charged with capital murder, aggravated assault and two counts of burglary of an automobile after 31-year-old Amanda Price was killed outside her Union County home Dec. 5, 2011. Price’s husband, Ron, was wounded in the shoulder. The couple’s toddler, Molly Addison, was not injured that night.
District Attorney Ben Creekmore said Baker’s guilty plea is a relief to family members.
“Our office is relieved they don’t have to go through a big difficult trial that would have lasted two weeks at a minimum,” Creekmore said. “To hear the defendant accept responsibility for the crimes was important to them. I think they were both relieved and it was emotional and the depth of their loss was very present.”
Baker’s trial was slated to begin Aug. 12.
At the time of Baker’s arrest, New Albany Police Chief David Grisham said investigators believed Baker acted alone and that the shootings occurred during an attempted home invasion and burglary.
“He did not know whose house he was at,” Grisham said then of Baker. “He had no idea.”
Since Amanda Price’s death, the community has seen an outpouring of emotion for her and her family. Family and friends established the Amanda Price Memorial 5/10k Run and Fun Run to remember her.
Proceeds have gone to the Junior Auxiliary scholarship fund and Survival Inc., a nonprofit organization supporting families of murder victims.