September 03, 2017
The man awaiting trial for assaulting a disabled victim in West Chester earlier this year claims he's been demonized without ever having an opportunity to share his side of the story.
Surveillance video from the May 10 incident, filmed in the parking lot of a local 7-Eleven, drew rebuke from around the country as Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan described 29-year-old Barry Baker as a "bully" who sucker-punched a defenseless victim.
At the Chester County Prison Saturday morning, a regretful and frustrated Baker spoke to a group of reporters for the first time since the incident.
"This case has become more political than criminal," said Baker, according to an account of the exchange reported by the Daily Local.
Baker's infamy in the wake of the assault was magnified by his flight from Chester County and the ensuing manhunt that resulted in his eventual arrest by U.S. Marshals at a hotel in Uwchlan. He had fled to Delaware with his girlfriend after warrants were issued for separate petty offenses, including outstanding child support payments and a probation violation in connection with the receipt of stolen property from a vehicle in 2009.
“I’m not a bully,” Baker said. “I never was. But I just want to get my life back. I take full responsibility for my actions. Nothing justifies what I did.”
According to Baker, who was advised by his attorney to lay low, the 22-year-old victim, an unidentified man with cerebral palsy, provoked him on the night of the incident after they had both been drinking at a local bar. Baker reportedly claimed the victim was acting inappropriately toward a woman at Barnaby's West Chester. He said he told the victim not to be disrespectful.
“Who do you think you are, Dr. Phil?” Baker reportedly claimed the victim responded.
Not long after this encounter, Baker said left the bar to buy cigarettes at 7-Eleven. The victim pulled into the lot just as he was leaving, he said. Baker claimed the victim kept on "running his mouth" as he entered the store and continued as he left. While mocking the victim was "wrong," Baker admitted, he said couldn't believe the man wasn't aware that agitating him while he was intoxicated might have been a dangerous idea.
"It doesn’t justify it," said Baker. "My actions were wrong. If he ever came to court, I would apologize."
As a result of the backlash, Baker said he's received hundreds of death threats, lost his tree removal business and was forced to leave the home he shared with his fiance in East Fallowfield. He wore a sling on Saturday as he recovers from injuries sustained in an alleged altercation last month with a corrections officer.
Baker remains held on on $100,000 bail. His attorney reportedly told him that Assistant D.A. Cynthia Morgan will seek a prison term of one to two years.