Man gets 14-to-life in killing, child sex assault

Christipher Baker

A Grand Junction man who was free on bond for sexually assaulting a child when he killed a man in a chokehold will spend at least 14 years in prison.

Christipher Baker, 27, was sentenced Monday by District Judge Thomas Deister to serve 14 years to life in prison, meaning he’ll be considered for release on parole after 14 years.

Baker in May pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the Nov. 2, 2013, death of 30-year-old Matthew Wilkerson at 517 Pauline St. in Clifton. Baker separately pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.

Baker was arrested July 23, 2013, on allegations he’d inappropriately touched a 4-year-old girl — actions he’d confessed to, according to an arrest affidavit.

Four months later, Baker claimed he’d accidentally killed his friend with a chokehold and said he was attacked at the Pauline Street home in an alcohol-fueled, jealous rage over a girl triggered by comments over pizza.

Sheriff’s deputies were called Nov. 2 to the Pauline home and found Wilkerson unresponsive on the living room floor, an affidavit said. Wilkerson had red marks on his throat, among other injuries. He died despite attempts to revive him.

Baker and Wilkerson’s girlfriend, Kristi Baldwin-York, 30, were also in the home at the time. An autopsy showed evidence of strangulation aside from bruises on Wilkerson’s face, neck, upper chest and arms, the affidavit said. Baldwin-York told deputies she, Baker and Wilkerson had been home watching mixed-martial arts when Wilkerson passed out. She said they carried him to a bedroom.

Her story changed. She said the men fought when Wilkerson came to believe Baker was sexually interested in her.

Both Baker and Baldwin-York told the same story about how the fight started: They both wanted a slice of Little Caesar’s pizza, sitting in a box in the living room. Wilkerson became jealous and appeared “really drunk,” Baker told deputies.

“Christipher said Matt did not want them to have more pizza and in fact blocked (Baldwin-York) from getting some,” the affidavit said.

Baker said Wilkerson started choking him, which prompted Baker to kick Wilkerson in the chest, then punch him in the face before applying a chokehold. Baker said he let go after Wilkerson said he was done fighting, the affidavit said.

“Christipher said they separated and Christipher started watching the UFC (mixed-martial arts) match again,” the affidavit said.

Baker claimed he was assaulted again, which led to another chokehold he estimated lasted about 30 seconds.

“Christipher said he released Matt from the chokehold when Matt’s arms gave way, became limp, and it appeared Matt was done fighting,” the affidavit said.

Baker told deputies they noticed something wasn’t right about a half-hour later when his lips had turned purple. Baker said he attempted CPR.


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