Baker jury selection set for June 2

BELLEFONTE — After several delays, jury selection in the case of Penn State defensive lineman Chris Baker could occur June 2 — even though a scheduled pretrial conference Thursday didn’t happen.

Centre County District Attorney Michael Madeira said the commonwealth is ready to go to trial and expects to meet with Baker’s attorney, Tony DeBoef, within the next week or so at the request of the defense to discuss whether a non-trial resolution is possible.

“We’re still in negotiations,” DeBoef said. “Hopefully by jury selection, we’ll have something in place or not.”Baker, who had been represented by Karen Muir, changed attorneys and hired DeBoef two months ago, forcing a postponement.

Baker is accused of forcing his way inside a State College apartment on April 1, 2007, and assaulting a person attending a party there. He is charged with burglary and criminal trespass, both felonies, and misdemeanor counts of simple assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct in that incident at the Meridian II apartment building along East College Avenue.

He has vehemently maintained his innocence.

“We’re open to any potential negotiations with counsel,” Madeira said.

Originally, Baker was one of six Penn State football players charged in the apartment invasion, but charges against three other players were dismissed for lack of evidence and counts against a fourth were withdrawn. A co-defendant in the apartment incident, defensive back Anthony Scirrotto, has pleaded guilty to defiant trespass and was given probation after apologizing for his role.

As many as two dozen players stormed into the apartment building looking for a man who accosted Scirrotto and his girlfriend about 45 minutes prior, according to court documents.

Baker also is awaiting trial — possibly in the following term of criminal court — for allegedly being one of about 15 football players who beat and stomped a man attending a party at the HUB-Robeson Center on campus Oct. 7. Baker, linebacker Navorro Bowman, and defensive lineman Phillip Taylor are charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct for the alleged HUB fight.

Bowman also is scheduled to pick a jury on June 2, said his attorney, Stacy Parks Miller.

Taylor also is scheduled to stand trial in the June term of court.

Taylor’s attorney, Ron McGlaughlin, said he, too, is open to talking with the prosecution about a non-trial resolution.“We’re either going to work something out or go to trial in this term of court,” McGlaughlin said. “I want to get this case over with for obvious reasons.”

All three players want to get their cases resolved and hopefully work their way back onto the football field, their attorneys said.

DeBoef said he would like to resolve both cases against Baker without going to trial, but he could not elaborate on what potential deal he would like to reach with Madeira and the prosecutor on the case, Assistant District Attorney Steve Sloane.

“We’re just looking for this young man to get on with his life, whatever it takes,” DeBoef said.

Pete Bosak can be reached at 235-3928.

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