State v. Baker

State v. Baker, 2013 MT 113 (April 30, 2013) (5-0) (McGrath, C.J.)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in admitting into evidence a recorded interview with the victim; (2) whether sufficient evidence supported the conviction; (3) whether the district court erred in denying Baker’s motion for a new trial; and (4) whether’s Baker’s attorney provided ineffective assistance at trial.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) yes; (3) no; and (4) the Court declines to address this issue.


Facts: Jeffrey Baker began a relationship with HB’s mother when HB was 2. When HB was 4, she told her mother about sexual contact Baker had with her, which Baker denied. Later, HB told her mother than Baker “touches his pee to my pee pee and it kind of hurts.” HB’s mother called the police.

A trained forensic interviewer, Dawn Spencer, interviewed HB before trial. HB was reluctant to talk about Baker, but said he had touched her “in a bad way,” and put his privates into her privates. Baker denied any inappropriate contact with HB. The interview was recorded. The state charged Baker with felony sexual assault.

Procedural Posture & Holding: HB was 7 when she testified as the first witness at Baker’s jury trial in January 2012. She testified that he was mean and she was afraid of him, but refused to elaborate. She said she had not told her secret to anyone but her mother, and would not tell because she was afraid.  The state called Dawn Spencer as a witness, and moved to admit the tape of her interview with HB. Baker objected, and the court denied the objection. The tape was played to the jury.

HB’s mother testified about Baker having put his penis into HB’s mouth when she was 4, and touching her inappropriately. HB’s therapist also testified that Baker had “tortured” her and did “something gross” that she didn’t want to talk about.

The jury convicted Baker of sexual assault, and the court sentenced him to 40 years in prison with 20 suspended. Baker appeals, and the Supreme Court affirms.