Teenager convicted in Tempe man's beating death in Va. - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Teenager convicted in Tempe man's beating death in Va.

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Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 1:00 pm | Updated: 5:56 pm, Fri Jun 24, 2011.

One of three teenage boys charged in the beating death of an elderly Tempe man the evening after his granddaughter’s September wedding in Virginia was convicted of first-degree murder on Monday.

The 14-year-old boy, who was 13 at the time of the attack, admitted to police that he participated in the beating death of George Baker III, 81. He was found guilty by a judge in Lynchburg’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, according to information from a clerk of the court. The boy’s name is not being released.

According to Lynchburg, Va., police, the boy was with two 16-year-old boys who all attacked Baker on Sept. 5 as he was walking from his hotel to a restaurant in the city’s downtown district about 10 p.m. Baker died after police say he was beaten over the head and chest outside during an attack initiated by Kenneth Davis Jr.,  to impress a girl, police said. The boys were arrested two days later and were each indicted on first-degree murder charges by a grand jury on Oct. 4.

The boys were known to police, who said they had gang affiliations.

The 14-year-old will be sentenced on April 6 in Lynchburg’s Juvenile Domestic Relations Court. Under Virginia state law, he cannot face life in prison but could be held until he is 21, according to Mike Dousette, an attorney in the Virginia Commonwealth’s district attorney’s office.

Baker’s granddaughter, Leslie Gahagan, and her husband Joseph Gahagan live in North Carolina, but Baker was in Lynchburg to attend their wedding because the couple attended college there and thought the historic city was the perfect place to get married.

Baker lived in the Tempe Gardens Estate neighborhood, near the Ken McDonald Golf Course.

The trials of Vernon Jackson, now 17, and Davis, the other two boys charged with first-degree murder, will begin next week. They are being tried as adults and each face life in prison.

They are being held without bond in the adult jail population at Lynchburg’s Blue Ridge Regional Jail.

CONTACT WRITER: (480) 898-6533 or msakal@evtrib.com

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