Jury to decide Baker’s competency to stand trial

It will be a jury, following the testimony of experts, who decide whether former Madera County Supervisor and Sierra Telephone president Harry Baker, 87, is competent to stand trial in his 2007 felony molestation case involving a 13-year-old girl.

In a Dec. 12 Fresno Bee story, Baker’s lawyer, Roger Nuttall told a Fresno County Superior Court jury during the competency hearing that Baker is frail, hard of hearing, and suffers from a number of ailments, including dementia.

Nuttall added psychologists Allan Hedberg and Paula Willis were expected to say that Baker is not competent to stand trial. Hedberg diagnosed him with dementia, and Willis said Baker has several medical issues, including congestive heart failure and prostate cancer, which could hinder his memory due to lack of oxygen to his brain. Nuttall contended that Baker can’t remember the day of the week or the date.

The prosecuting attorney, Becky Gong countered that Baker does know what’s going on, and that he was working and living on his own prior to be jailed.

If convicted on the molestation charge, Baker could face up to eight years in prison. Due to his poor health, his trial has been delayed multiple times.

- Staff report