SC man with Ky. ties gets 30 years in mother’s death

This is a story from the Augusta Chronicle: http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/latest/lat_406627.shtml

By Michelle Guffey

AUGUSTA CHRONICLE

AIKEN, S.C. – Craig Baldwin pleaded guilty Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter in the slaying of his 83-year-old mother and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

For more than two years, Mr. Baldwin, 60, has been in the Aiken County jail on a charge of murder in the June 2006 death of Dale Baldwin, whose decomposing body was found in the front lawn of her York Street home. Authorities believe she was killed a week earlier.

A day after her body was discovered, Mr. Baldwin was in Lexington, Ky., for his daughter’s wedding, and Aiken Public Safety investigators went there to question him.

He was not charged with his mother’s death at the time, and after warrants for his arrest were issued he eluded authorities for about a week before he was captured at a hotel in Asheville, N.C.

Solicitor Barbara Morgan said that during the course of the investigation, detectives learned that Mrs. Baldwin had been upset with her son, who took $20,000 from her bank account without her knowledge to pay for his daughter’s wedding.

“She was livid and wanted the money paid back,” Ms. Morgan told the court, explaining that it was not the first time Mr. Baldwin had taken money, and his mother was taking steps to ensure that it didn’t happen again.

On June 23, 2006, neighbors found Mrs. Baldwin’s decomposing body wrapped in a green blanket behind some shrubbery on the front lawn of her home.

When investigators entered the house, they came upon a macabre scene in the victim’s bedroom – a blood-spattered room, a dress coat covering a pool of blood, and missing bed covers.

“The assault occurred on the bed,” Ms. Morgan said.

An autopsy revealed that Mrs. Baldwin had been struck several times about the body and had cuts around her throat.

A baseball bat, covered in Mrs. Baldwin’s blood, was found at a home in Kentucky that was owned by neighbors of Mr. Baldwin’s ex-wife.

After killing his mother, Mr. Baldwin wrapped her body in a blanket and shoved her out a window into the bushes, Ms. Morgan said, adding that the defendant then left for the week.

After listening to the details about Mrs. Baldwin’s death and the events that followed, Judge Jack Early of the Second Judicial Circuit Court told the defendant that if the victim’s family had opposed a plea agreement he would not have accepted the guilty plea of voluntary manslaughter, stating that he would have sentenced the defendant to life in prison had Mr. Baldwin been convicted by a jury.

“I reluctantly go along with this plea agreement,” Judge Early said.

Mr. Baldwin must serve 85 percent, or 25 1/2 years, of his 30-year sentence before being eligible for parole.

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext.
110, or michelle.guffey@augustachronicle.com

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