Wounded man facing charges

August 22, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg area man wounded in a shooting Sunday night was charged Thursday with intimidation of a witness and false pretense, according to West Virginia State Police.

James L. Baker, 36, was jailed in lieu of $15,000 bond following his arraignment before Magistrate Sandra Miller.

He had been wounded at about 8:30 p.m. at the Oak Tree Estates homes of Howard S. Hartman when, according to police, Hartman fired a rifle into the pavement of his driveway and fragments struck Baker in the leg.

The shooting was reportedly over the fraudulent sale of a double-wide mobile home to Hartman, for which Baker and his girlfriend Lauren Downard allegedly received $1,500 in checks and a used car as a down payment. The home, however, was not owned by Downard, but a finance company, according to police.


Downard had been arrested on a false pretense charge on Aug. 13.

The charging documents stated that on that day Baker told the investigating officer "he was going to remove the Hartmans from the home by force, and use weapons if necessary." The trooper stated in the report he warned Baker to stay away from the Hartmans because they were protected witnesses of the state.

The report said on Saturday the Hartmans received a threatening letter telling them to leave the house. The following night Baker went to the house. "According to Mr. Hartman, Baker had an unknown handgun," the report stated.

After the shooting, Baker drove himself to a gas station across the street from the state police barracks. He then was taken to City Hospital.

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