Gang member faces second round of drug charges
LISBON — A reputed Cleveland gang member will be tried again as an adult on drug charges after his first conviction was overturned because local officials failed to file the charges in juvenile court.
Visiting Juvenile Court Judge John Hoffman Jr. ruled Nov. 1 there was enough evidence for him to determine that Nathaniel Baker should be tried as an adult on drug charges and not as a juvenile, setting the stage for Baker to be go on trial a second time in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.
Baker, 19, was 17 when charged with two counts of drug possession following a raid on an East Liverpool drug house. The county prosecutor’s office opted to charge Baker as an adult instead as a minor in county juvenile court, in part because he had previously been convicted in Cleveland of felony charges as an adult.
Following Baker’s arrest on the drug charges he was indicted as an adult and a common pleas court jury found him guilty, resulting in a 30-month prison sentence. The Ohio 7th District Court of Appeals overturned Baker’s conviction, saying Baker should have been charged as a juvenile because it is still the juvenile court judge’s duty to determine if a minor is to be tried as an adult, even if the minor has prior felony convictions as an “adult” defendant.
Judge Hoffman was assigned the case and he determined Baker should be tried as an adult in common pleas court because of his past felony convictions and based on the new drug charges against him.
Baker was arraigned in common pleas court on Friday and pleaded innocent to the drug possession charges, with Judge Scott Washam scheduling the case for trial on Feb. 12.
Baker has boasted about being a member of the Heartless Felons gang in Cleveland, where he has been convicted of attempted robbery, extortion, misdemeanor assault and participatin