Sister, Brother Sentenced in UMD Student’s Death

On Thursday, May 24, Noah Baker, 20, and Tara Baker, 23, Were Sentenced for their Connection to the 2017 Murder of UMD Student William Grahek, 22

DULUTH, Minn. – A difficult situation for two mothers, family members and friends entering the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth Thursday.

More than 15 months after the murder of UMD student William Grahek, 22, two suspects — a brother and sister — involved in the case were sentenced for their role in the crime.

Police responded to the scene in the 500 block of East 11th Street on February 14, 2017.

According to authorities, the crime took place after a failed attempt by five individuals to take drugs and cash from Grahek’s East Hillside residence.

On Thursday, two of the five suspects were sentenced while their families watched from their seats in the courtroom.

Noah Baker, 20, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the second-degree murder of Grahek, after pleading guilty to the charge in April.

Mr. Baker could be eligible for parole in 20 years if he exhibits good behavior.

Other charges of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery were dismissed against him after a plea bargain was reached at an earlier date.

Baker entered the courtroom in handcuffs and chose not to speak during the sentencing.

Judge Mark A. Munger spoke directly to Baker, emphasizing the fact that he’s not even 21 years old, and that his record was not clean before the murder of Grahek in 2017. Munger extended hope that when Baker gets out of prison one day, he will turn to a better way of living.

As Baker exited the courtroom, cries from family members and friends could be heard throughout the room. Baker looked back and said directly to his mother, “Keep your head up Mom, I’m good.”

His sister, Tara Baker, 23, pleaded guilty to aiding an offender in April, after first lying to authorities after the crime took place in 2017. She was sentenced to 60 days in a women’s correctional facility, and another six years of supervised probation, to include a variety of requirements.

Judge Munger spoke directly to Baker, offering advice for getting her life back on track, and asked she complete all therapies and future drug testing.

“Tara deserved an opportunity to show that she can recover from her mistakes and go on,” said Sonia Sturdevant, Assistant Public Defender with the 6th Judicial District. “Tara’s not a violent person and that’s one of the things that we emphasized for the sentencing.”

During both sentencings, Grahek’s mother spoke directly to the Baker’s in reading a victim impact statement.

“We hope that this can allow the Grahek’s to close the book on his chapter of this journey they have been on, in this case on February 14 when their loved one was taken from them,” said Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Jessica Fralich.

Mrs. Grahek revealed on the same day of her son’s murder, William had called his father to let him know of his acceptance into the military.

Grahek also revealed her family of four is now a family of two, stating since her son’s murder, Mr. Grahek died of cancer.

Three other suspects are facing charges in the case including Deandre Davenport, 22, for murder in the first-degree, with intent while committing a felony.

Noah King, 19, has also been charged with murder in first degree.  Xavier Haywood, 27, is charged with aiding an offender, accomplice after the fact.

 

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