Sheila McLaughlin reports:
A Warren County man who was part of the supply chain for marijuana sales at Mason and Kings high schools will be freed from prison after the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals threw out his conviction.
Justin Baker, who was serving a mandatory 8-year sentence, was accused of growing marijuana at two homes in Butler County and a warehouse in Blue Ash that eventually found its way to Mason High School teen Tyler Pagenstecher for distribution to students.
Authorities described it as a potential $3 million business.
The 12th District ruled that none of Baker’s alleged crimes occurred in Warren County and that he should have been tried in either Butler or Hamilton counties.
Prosecutors contended that Baker, 32, engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity involving other dealers and growers. Appellate judges, however, said prosecutors did not prove the marijuana Baker sold through a series of growers or dealers identified in the alleged ring ever made it to Pagenstecher for distribution in Warren County.
The appellate judges noted their ruling resulted in a “distasteful outcome” because Baker legally cannot be tried again for the same crimes.
Baker, who was one of seven adults charged in the case, had waived a jury and was tried and convicted of 10 felony charges before Warren County Common Pleas Judge Robert Peeler.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said he is reviewing the ruling and may file an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.