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Tyrone Lamont BAKER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Crime spree - Robberies - Kidnapping
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: December 3-5, 1989
Date of arrest: December 5, 1989
Date of birth: March 4, 1970
Victims profile: Ida Mae Dougherty, 72 / Lester Haley, 87, and his wife, Nancy Haley, 69
Method of murder: Suffocation with a pillow - Shooting
LocationShawnee/Douglas Counties, Kansas, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison in 1991 and 1992. He won't be eligible for parole until December 2091
 
 
 
 
 

Killing spree

Tyrone Baker murdered three elderly Topekans, but a fourth escaped

-

Monday, June 23, 2003

Verne "B." Horne grasped her two elderly neighbors by the arms, feeling them tremble as the man who had killed their neighbor forced them to walk along a rural path east of Topeka.

It was Dec. 4, 1989, and 19-year-old Tyrone Lamont Baker was holding a gun on Horne and her neighbors, Lester Haley, 87, and his wife, Nancy Haley, 69.

Baker told his captives to stop walking and lie face down. He cocked his handgun and pointed it at Horne's head, she later testified.

But Horne, 68, refused. She had once read about three "rules" for dealing with kidnappers -- and one was to not turn away.

"Whatever you do to me, you have to do with me facing you," Horne said.

She told Baker that if he killed them he would be a murderer, a young man facing a lifetime in prison.

Horne offered Baker $1,000 to let her go. The Haleys agreed to sweeten the pot.

Baker replied that he didn't know whether he was a murderer yet.

Horne moved to capitalize. She suggested perhaps Baker hadn't really killed their neighbor, 72-year-old Ida Mae Dougherty.

"If you didn't really kill Ida Mae, you're not a murderer yet," Horne said.

She suggested Baker leave them and check where he had left Dougherty the previous night. Baker protested, saying Horne would call the police.

Horne answered that she would swear on a Bible -- if she had one -- that she and the Haleys would wait there for him for an hour.

Baker decided to go check. He climbed into Dougherty's car and drove off.

Horne and the Haleys ran for their lives.

Prelude to a spree

Tyrone Baker first hinted on Dec. 3, 1989, that he was ready to go on a crime spree. Baker suggested that morning to his girlfriend, 18-year-old Lisa Pfannenstiel, that they arm themselves and "become terrorists" inside someone's home in order to get money to live on.

At the time, Baker and Pfannenstiel were living on the streets. They had known each other for a year or two, and dated since September 1989. Both attended high school briefly that fall, Baker at Topeka High School and Pfannenstiel at Washburn Rural and Topeka West, then stopped going.

School officials described both as "low-profile" students who posed no discipline problem, though Baker had spent about a year on probation after being convicted in Shawnee County juvenile court of stealing a car in August 1987 from a Topeka dealership.

Pfannenstiel had a history of running away from home and had gone through substance abuse treatment. She left her father's home in Auburn in the fall of 1989 and moved in with Baker. Soon afterward, Baker was evicted. By early December, they were staying in homes of friends.

Pfannenstiel later testified that at the time, she and Baker thought she was pregnant. They were right. Their baby would be born in prison and given up for adoption.

On the evening of Dec. 3, Baker borrowed a gun from an acquaintance. He and Pfannenstiel went to Topeka's upscale Westboro community. They tried a door of one house and peered into another. Then, they went to the house at 3410 S.W. Avalon Lane where Ida Mae Dougherty, a widow, lived alone.

Ida Mae

Her minister described Dougherty as a "steadfast, remarkable, difficult, exasperating, troubling, endearing, courageous woman of faith."

As a young woman, Dougherty enrolled at Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia and checked into a dormitory before walking into a dean's office to say, "I'm here, and I have no money." The school arranged for her to work her way through college.

After graduation, Dougherty taught school before coming to Topeka in 1944 to work as social director for the Menninger Foundation. She later worked for more than 30 years as a real estate agent in Topeka, stressing to customers that she sold "homes," not just houses. Dougherty was active at First Congregational Church, where she and her daughter formerly taught a class for mentally disabled children.

Baker and Pfannenstiel saw Dougherty through a ground-floor kitchen window, and decided to break in because they thought she was alone. Baker cut a hole in a screen door, entered the porch and encountered a glass door. He and Pfannenstiel walked a few blocks to the home of a friend, who lent them duct tape. They returned to the house and used the tape to quietly break the door glass.

The couple went upstairs unnoticed, probably because the TV was on very loudly. No one was upstairs, where Pfannenstiel testified she waited as Baker went downstairs and she heard Dougherty scream, "Oh my God!"

Baker confronted Dougherty in her kitchen, robbed her of $70 and made her lie down and bind her own feet with tape. Baker came upstairs and told Pfannenstiel he would have to "do" Dougherty because she had gotten a good look at him. He took a pillow downstairs as his girlfriend waited at the top of the stairs.

"I heard some struggling and some kicking," she later testified. "She was kicking the cabinets."

When the noise stopped, Pfannenstiel walked partway down the stairs. She looked into a wall mirror and saw Dougherty's lifeless body and bound feet. The sight made her throw up.

The couple put Dougherty's body in the trunk of Dougherty's car, a red, two-door 1984 Ford. They drove east to Douglas County, where Pfannenstiel held a flashlight for Baker as he dumped the body, leaving it under leaves. Pfannenstiel tried to avoid looking at the body, but noticed Dougherty's head had been completely wrapped in duct tape.

The couple returned to spend the night in Dougherty's home. They opened Dougherty's Christmas presents, found other items to steal and went to bed in a spare bedroom. Baker slept well, Pfannenstiel later recalled.

Late the next morning, the relentless ringing of Dougherty's phone awakened the couple. Baker said to ignore it. They decided to leave. Baker was putting on his shoes when the front door opened downstairs.

It was Dougherty's neighbors, looking for her.

Good Samaritans

At 87 years old, Lester Haley still played golf regularly on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Shawnee Country Club. An architect, Haley had retired at age 65, gone back to work and retired again at 85. He had been married for 14 years to his wife, Nancy, 69, a retired employee of Design Forum in Topeka. Both were preceded in death by a first spouse. Friends described the Haleys as good neighbors and helpful, caring people who had lots of friends and were active at First Congregational Church.

Late the morning of Dec. 4, Nancy Haley called their neighbor, Horne, to say Dougherty wasn't answering her telephone and that her newspaper had remained on the driveway much longer than usual. Horne was a retired activities therapist at Topeka State Hospital and the wife of a psychiatrist, Dr. James Horne. She agreed to meet Lester Haley at Dougherty's house.

Horne and Lester Haley used a key Dougherty had given them to enter. They called out "Ida Mae" while searching several rooms. When they entered the guest bedroom after seeing the door was partially open, Baker accosted them at gunpoint and told them not to move.

He made Horne and Lester Haley lie face-down on beds in another bedroom. Nancy Haley, who was worried about her husband, showed up moments later. Baker forced her to lie face-down on the floor between the beds.

Baker asked why her neighbors had come to Dougherty's house. Horne replied, "We take care of our neighbors here."

Baker told Pfannenstiel he would have to kill the three. He told her to load up Dougherty's car with the Christmas presents and other items they were stealing from the house.

Pfannenstiel made three trips to the car, then refused to make any more and said she was leaving. Baker agreed, promising to pick her up later at a friend's house. Pfannenstiel left, wearing a diamond ring Baker had taken off Dougherty's finger.

Baker forced his captives to face a wall, remove their eyeglasses, walk downstairs and go out the back door to the garage. They walked to Dougherty's mid-size Ford car and saw the trunk was open. Baker told them to get into it, but Horne convinced him they were too old and the trunk was too small.

Then, Horne's husband drove up to their house across the street. Horne fought the temptation to scream for help, reasoning "Why should we both be killed?"

Baker demanded to know if his captives knew the man across the street. Horne said it was her husband, but he wouldn't miss her. Baker ordered Horne and the Haleys into the back seat of Dougherty's car. He started the car, turned it around in the driveway and drove off, obeying the traffic laws as he drove east.

Horne had read that conversing was one of the three rules in dealing with kidnappers, so she asked Baker about himself. Baker talked to Horne for a time, mostly telling lies. Horne made it a point to show sympathy for Baker, particularly when he said his wife had been killed, leaving him alone to raise a 2-month-old daughter. That turned out to be a lie.

East of Topeka, in a hilly part of western Douglas County, Baker stopped and told his captives to get out. He held a gun on them as they walked about 200 yards, then told them to lie face down on the side of the road.

A race for life

After Horne refused to obey Baker and convinced him to leave, she helped the Haleys get up. Horne told them to hide while she went east to get help.

Horne, who wasn't as frail as the Haleys, ran alone through the hills, wondering whether every twig snap was Baker behind her. She saw the red car he was driving pass by slowly as she hid in the woods.

Horne stopped at a house, but found no one home and left for fear that barking dogs there would give her away. She saw other houses, but stuck to the woods for fear of being spotted.

After about three hours, Horne took a chance and hailed a passing car, driven by an area resident. They went to a nearby house. Horne called her husband and learned police detectives were at her home.

Authorities searched the area where the Haleys were last seen. Police in a helicopter used a loudspeaker to try to find them, without success.

That evening, police found Dougherty's missing car in a lot at the southwest corner of S.W. 29th and Gage Boulevard. Plainclothes officers watched the empty car for about 30 minutes, then went to it and searched it thoroughly.

Also that evening, police announced that Dougherty and the Haleys were missing. They asked for the public's help in finding them.

The next day, Dec. 5, police released a composite sketch of the gunman. The sketch showed a black man with shoulder-length hair that was slightly wavy, with some curl at the ends.

At about 1:10 p.m. that day, bodies of the Haleys were found in a field in western Douglas County, about two miles east of where Horne and the couple had been dropped off. Both had been shot to death. Authorities concluded the gunman recaptured them, took them there and killed them.

That afternoon, Baker went to Topeka High School and gave a handgun to an acquaintance. That youth turned it over to Topeka police that night.

Other acquaintances who had heard that Baker and Pfannenstiel were involved with the murders realized the gravity of the situation and contacted police. The case was attracting significant media attention. A crew from CNN was in Topeka.

By late Dec. 5, officers had questioned many of the couple's friends, conducted several searches and seized much of the property stolen from Dougherty's home. Now it was time to capture Baker and Pfannenstiel.

Police watched the couple for several hours before arresting them, unarmed and without resistance, at about 11 p.m. Dec. 5 at the south Topeka hotel where they were staying.

On Dec. 6, Dougherty's body was found under leaves in western Douglas County, about two miles from the Haleys.

Aftermath

Soon after Baker and Pfannenstiel were arrested, Kansas Bureau of Investigation Director Dave Johnson told a racist joke while chatting with two reporters about the interracial nature of their relationship. One of the reporters -- Ted Frederickson, a University of Kansas journalism faculty member working for the Kansas City Times -- wrote a column critical of Johnson's use of the joke, which was published Dec. 10, 1989. Johnson resigned under pressure later that day.

Shawnee County prosecutors charged Baker and Pfannenstiel with numerous felonies, then offered Pfannenstiel a deal. They would drop all other charges if she would testify against Baker and plead guilty to aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

Pfannenstiel agreed. She was convicted and sentenced to six to 15 years in prison.

Horne and relatives of Dougherty and the Haleys became concerned after hearing prosecutors also were making a deal with Baker. They hired local attorney Pedro Irigonegaray to serve as a special prosecutor and represent their interests in court.

Baker used an insanity defense during separate trials held in Shawnee and Douglas counties. Both included testimony from Baker, Pfannenstiel and Horne.

Kris W. Miller, who had loaned Baker the gun, shocked some spectators at the Shawnee County trial by testifying while wearing a T-shirt that pictured a bright yellow happy face with blood gushing from a bullet hole in the forehead.

Baker told jurors he had a history of mental problems, which included hearing voices and losing control of his body to a "friend" who took care of him. Baker said no one could see his friend unless the friend wanted them to. He said he was powerless to keep his friend from taking control, and often couldn't remember what happened when his friend was in control.

Baker said he hadn't sought help in dealing with his friend because he didn't want people calling him a "freak," and he "already had problems enough getting friends and fitting into the crowd." Baker said he had no knowledge of how the Haleys died, and couldn't remember holding Horne and the Haleys captive.

At both trials, psychiatrists gave conflicting testimony as to whether Baker knew what he was doing was wrong. Pfannenstiel testified before both juries that Baker was coherent during the time she was with him and never mentioned being possessed or hearing voices. She said she thought Baker knew what he was doing was illegal.

The juries agreed. Baker was convicted in August 1990 in Shawnee County of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and three counts of kidnapping. He was convicted in August 1991 in Douglas County District Court of the murders of the Haleys.

Pfannenstiel entered the Kansas prison system in July 1990 and was set free in December 1993 after the state that year adopted sentencing guidelines that required her release, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections. Corrections officials don't know her whereabouts today.

Baker is an inmate at El Dorado Correctional Facility. He won't be eligible for parole until December 2091.

 
 

Jury finds Baker guilty

-

September 3, 1991

LAWRENCE -- The Douglas County courtroom was silent Friday for the reading of verdicts finding Tyrone L. Baker guilty of all charges relating to the December 1989 kidnappings and murders of Topekans Lester and Nancy Haley.

Some members of the Haley family cried silently. Baker, 21, sat motionless, eyes fixed straight ahead, as the court clerk read the five felony verdicts.

The jury deliberated slightly more than two hours before finding Baker guilty of first- degree murder in the Haleys' deaths, guilty of the aggravated kidnappings of the Haleys and guilty of committing aggravated assault on the Haleys' neighbor, Verne B. Horne, 70.

In finding Baker guilty of the aggravated kidnapping charges, the jury decided the kidnappings were committed both with the intent to inflict bodily injury or to terrorize the Haleys and with the intent to facilitate flight or the commission of a crime.

The jury considered testimony from 26 witnesses and viewed about 75 exhibits. They were guided by a set of 23 jury instructions and had 33 separate verdict forms to consider.

Evidence included testimony from the defendant, who denied having any knowledge of how the Haleys died and explained that he was sometimes taken over by an evil force whose purpose was to destroy all that is good.

The jury also heard from two Topeka psychiatrists who agreed Baker was a paranoid schizophrenic but disagreed on whether he suffered psychotic episodes in which he lost contact with reality.

Defense psychiatrist Dr. Gilbert Parks found Baker insane and not responsible for his acts. The state's psychiatrist, Dr. Herbert Modlin, said Baker was sane and fully capable of understanding the nature of his acts and that they were prohibited by law.

"What these two trials to me boil down to is a battle of experts," said Suzanne James of Topeka, Nancy Haley's daughter. "Whose expert was more compelling than the other. It seemed very clear to me, but you don't know how it's affecting other people.

"I'm just really thankful to those jurors. They said, "Maybe we aren't experts in psychiatry, but one sounded more reasonable than the other.'

"I just feel an enormous sense of relief that it's over and I only have to look at Tyrone Baker one more time."

Baker will appear back in court on Oct. 18 for a hearing on post-trial motions and sentencing.

James sat through the trial with a small contingent of her family members and friends and family and friends of Ida Mae Dougherty. Dougherty was the Topeka woman Horne and the Haleys were checking on when they first encountered Baker on Dec. 4, 1989.

The same group sat through Baker's Shawnee County trial in June 1990 when he was convicted of killing Dougherty, 72, and the initial kidnappings of Horne and the Haleys.

Baker is serving life plus 51 years to life in prison for the Shawnee County convictions.

Presiding juror Joseph Alonzo said the psychiatric testimony helped the jury decide.

"I don't know if I would say they (the jury) believed the insanity defense," Alonzo said. "We were sort of on the borderline there, on the edge. Everybody had an issue, saying, "Where am I really on this?' You had to sit and discuss several issues and become comfortable."

Alonzo said jurors took several votes before reaching their decision. None of the jurors believed Baker was innocent, he said.

In closing arguments, Douglas County District Attorney Jerry Wells said Baker's actions deprived the Haleys of a death with grace, dignity and peace.

"They were slaughtered like animals in a field," he said. "Executed. Why, why, why were these people slaughtered like that? Executed in that field. For one very simple reason. That man wanted to cover his tracks and conceal his crime."

Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, the special prosecutor hired by the victims' families, told the jury that while Baker is mentally ill, there is no evidence that he is insane and unaccountable for his actions.

"He is a criminal," Irigonegaray said. "He does have responsibility. He knew what he was doing. He was afraid of the law. The law you now represent. He was afraid of the law because he knew what he was doing was wrong."

Baker's attorney, Ron Wurtz, a Shawnee County public defender, urged the jury to consider evidence of eight or 10 irrational acts Baker committed and find him not guilty by reason of insanity.

He reminded the jury that it was the state's job to prove Baker sane beyond a reasonable doubt, not the job of the defense to prove him insane.

"Is that proof beyond a reasonable doubt?" Wurtz asked. "Are those grains of sugar that you've scraped together, is that reasonable doubt? If it is, you must pick the verdict that says not guilty by reason of insanity. That's the law."

 
 

United States Court of Appeals
For the Tenth Circuit

TYRONE LAMONT BAKER, SR., Petitioner - Appellant,
v.
LOUIS E. BRUCE; THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF KANSAS,
Respondents - Appellees.

No. 02-3147

D.C. No. 95-CV-3184-DES

ORDER AND JUDGMENT

Before EBEL, BALDOCK, and LUCERO, Circuit Judges.

After examining the briefs and appellate record, this panel has determined unanimously that oral argument would not materially assist the determination of this appeal. See Fed. R. App. P. 34(a)(2); 10th Cir. R. 34.1(G). The case is therefore ordered submitted without oral argument.

Petitioner Tyrone Baker, a state inmate, seeks a certificate of appealability ("COA") that would allow him to appeal from the district court's order denying relief on his habeas petition brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254. He also appeals from the court's order lifting the stay in his habeas action. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1291 and 2253(a). We conclude that the district court properly lifted the stay. Because Mr. Baker has failed to make a "substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right" as required by 28 U.S.C. 2253(c)(2), we deny his application for COA and dismiss the appeal.

I. Facts and proceedings

In 1991 Mr. Baker was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated kidnapping in Douglas County, Kansas, after having been previously convicted of a separate count of first-degree murder, aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, and three counts of kidnapping in Shawnee County, Kansas.(1) His convictions all arise from a series of events occurring in 1989 and beginning in Shawnee County, where Mr. Baker murdered an elderly woman and burglarized her home. When three of the victim's neighbors came to check on her, Mr. Baker kidnapped them and drove them to an isolated location in Douglas County. One of the kidnapped victims convinced Mr. Baker to return to Shawnee County to make sure his first victim was dead. After Mr. Baker left, she ran for help, and the other two victims, who were elderly and infirm, tried to hide. When the victim who ran for help returned with police officers, the other two victims were missing from the location where Mr. Baker had left them. Their bodies were later found three miles away, but still in Douglas County, where Mr. Baker had moved and murdered them. The State asserted that this second moving of the victims constituted separate kidnappings. Mr. Baker's above-described convictions were affirmed on direct appeal.

Mr. Baker filed his federal habeas petition on April 27, 1995, raising a single issue: whether his trial and convictions for kidnapping in Douglas County violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution. On October 17, 1997, Mr. Baker filed a motion for a stay of his federal habeas proceeding, arguing that he was seeking state habeas relief for the first time on additional grounds(2), and that if no relief was granted, he may wish to amend his federal petition to include the issues. The district court granted the stay, noting that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") could potentially bar the refiling of the federal habeas action if the court dismissed it for failure to exhaust the potential claims. See R. Doc. 14.

The district court revisited its decision and lifted the stay on September 20, 2001, concluding that Mr. Baker's potential additional federal habeas claims would be barred under AEDPA because he had failed to timely raise them after AEDPA's passage, and they asserted new theories of relief. See R. Doc. 21, at 1-2 (citing Woodward v. Williams, 263 F.3d 1135 (10th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 122 S. Ct. 1442 (2002); Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167 (2001); and United States v. Espinoza-Saenz, 235 F.3d 501, 505 (10th Cir. 2000)). The court concluded that Mr. Baker's habeas petition was therefore ripe for decision, as a stay could not salvage the untimely claims. We hold that the district court properly lifted the stay.

As to the merits of his petition for COA, Mr. Baker may make a "substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right" by demonstrating that the Double Jeopardy issue raised in his habeas petition and rejected by the district court is debatable among jurists, or that a court could resolve the issues differently, or that the question presented deserves further proceedings. See Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 483-84 (2000). We have carefully reviewed the record, the petition, and the applicable law. For substantially the same reasons stated by the district court in its order filed March 29, 2002, we conclude that the Double Jeopardy issue is not debatable among jurists, that we would not resolve the issues differently, and that the question presented does not deserve further proceedings. Mr. Baker's "Motion to Proffer" transcripts from separate state-court actions is DENIED. We DENY a COA and DISMISS the appeal.

Entered for the Court

Bobby R. Baldock

Circuit Judge

*****

FOOTNOTES

1. Mr. Baker's conviction for aggravated assault was overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court in 1994. See State v. Baker, 877 P.2d 946, 951 (Kan. 1994). In his petition for COA, Mr. Baker briefly complains that Kansas still has not removed that conviction from his records, and that the state court has refused to rule on this issue in his post-conviction motions. That issue was not raised in his habeas petition that we review here, however, and will not be addressed.

2. The state-post conviction petition was filed May 21, 1997. The grounds include incompetence to stand trial; "forced insanity plea"; conflict of interest; "private vindictive prosecution"; prosecutorial misconduct; and ineffective assistance of counsel. R. Doc. 19, Ex. A.

 
 


Tyrone Baker looks into a camera during his Shawnee County murder trial.
In the foreground is legal aide Cindy McNorton.

 

Verne "B." Horne demonstrates how Baker held Horne and two of her neighbors at gunpoint during Baker's June 1990 Shawnee County trial.

 

Lisa Pfannenstiel was sentenced to six to 15 years in prison as part of a plea agreement following the 1989 murders.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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