September 29 was either a very bad day or the luckiest day of Joshua Stephen Baker’s life.The Southeast Portland man drank far too much, beat his girlfriend, shot a neighbor who told him to stop, crashed his truck during a 90-mph chase, pointed a rifle at police and suffered a grazing bullet wound to the head.
But Baker was fortunate he survived and that he didn’t end up killing anyone, which could have spurred a life prison sentence.On Thursday, a judge sentenced him to 6 ⅔ years in prison. Last month, he pleaded guilty to using a firearm to carry out the second-degree assault of his neighbor, whom he shot in the arm, and to the fourth-degree domestic-violence assault of his girlfriend.
“It was shockingly uncharacteristic,” said defense attorney Tom Hanrahan.
Baker, 27, had no criminal history. Hanrahan said Baker had a rough childhood, having grown up in the California foster-care system. He moved from home to home, and never was adopted.
Baker declined to make a statement when given a chance in court.
Baker downed beer after beer in the hours before his neighbor, Vadim Kobenko, spotted Baker beating his girlfriend outside their apartment complex near Southeast 134th Avenue and Powell Boulevard about 4 a.m. Sept. 29.
Kobenko told Baker to stop, the girlfriend broke free and Baker went back into his unit and — through his bedroom window — shot at Kobenko with a .22-caliber rifle. Kobenko was struck in the arm and survived, although more than five months later he still suffers from pain, said prosecutor Don Rees.After the shooting, Baker got into his GMC pickup and drove off. Officers who were arriving as he left pursued him, but backed off once it was clear Baker was driving dangerously without his headlights, at speeds reaching 90 mph.About 3 ½ miles from the apartment complex, officers encountered Baker’s pickup crashed into a backyard dividing wall at Northeast 148th Avenue and San Rafael Street. Baker got out of his truck and pointed his rifle at police.Officers Erik Strohmeyer and Garry Britt fired at Baker. One bullet grazed his scalp, and Baker dropped the rifle and fell to the ground, yelling at police as he bled. He was taken into custody.
Baker told police he had wanted them to kill him. Before he’d sped off from his apartment, he’d stuck a note to his bathroom door, telling his girlfriend to “please” give his dogs a good home.
A Multnomah County grand jury cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.
If Baker had gone to trial and been found guilty of the original charges against him — including attempted murder — he likely would have been sentenced to 7 ½ years of prison.