CHAMPAIGN — A Champaign man who killed a man in self-defense last year has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Keith L. Baker, 25, was sentenced Monday by Judge Roger Webber on a guilty plea to unlawful use of a weapon by a convicted felon.
Baker, whose last known address was in the 2400 block of North Neil Street, pleaded guilty to the weapons charge in February. He had originally been charged with the murder of James “Rooster” Coleman, but the murder charge was dismissed last August.
Assistant State’s Attorney Kristin Alferink had agreed to seek a maximum sentence of five years, and she argued in favor of Baker being sentenced to the full five years.
Baker has three prior felony convictions, was given multiple chances on probation and “squandered each opportunity,” she said.
The fact that he brought a gun to the dice game at which Mr. Coleman was killed and used the gun in self-defense in no way mitigates the weapons offense, she said.
“The defendant placed himself in that situation,” Alferink said.
Baker’s attorney, Kevin Sanborn of Bloomington, asked for a three-year sentence, saying his client was a teenager when he committed his first felony and that all three felonies were property crimes.
In connection with the death of Mr. Coleman, Sanborn said, “It’s everyone’s God-given right to defend themselves.”
Sanborn noted that Baker turned himself in and cooperated with authorities. He also had a job before he was jailed, wants to finish his high school education and has a young son, he said.
“He has everything to live for,” Sanborn said.
Webber said Baker had multiple traffic and misdemeanor convictions that demonstrated a lack of regard for the law.
Webber also said it was clear that Baker being unavailable to his child would have a detrimental effect on the child and that statements Baker made to probation indicated he is more self-aware than many of the defendants that come before him.
While Baker was sentenced to four years in prison, he was also given credit for the 314 days he has already served in jail.