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Man convicted of killing his friend who’d been shot three times before

A man convicted of killing his friend who was in hiding after having already been shot two weeks earlier received the maximum sentence in State Supreme Court Tuesday morning.

Justice Christopher J. Burns made no comment before telling Deshawn Harris, 28, that he would be serving a term of 25 years to life in prison for the 2014 murder of Denell Baker, 28.

Testimony at Harris’s trial showed that Baker was picked up at the University Motel on Main Street on Dec. 28, 2014 by Harris, his codefendant, Jordan Hicks, 27, and another man, purportedly to see about scoring some marijuana. The other man, who was not implicated in the killing, testified that the men drove to a store at East North and Jefferson Avenue, and when the vehicle was parked Harris pulled a gun and shot Baker.

The witness heard more shots as he ran from the vehicle and street security cameras corroborated his account.

Hicks and Harris drove from the scene and dropped Baker’s body two blocks away on Peach Street. He had a total of eight gunshot wounds.

Before he was killed, Baker already had been shot on three separate occasions in 2014 and he was the chief suspect in the killing of another man in October 2014. At Harris’s sentencing, Baker’s mother described another side of her son – a man she loved, a man who had children of his own, and a happy man. She told how his murder devastated his grandparents – his grandmother is a retired educator and his grandfather, a former professional soccer player from Cameroon.

Of the crime itself, she said, “I think it was overkill. I think it was premeditated. I know it was premeditated.”

And she asked the judge for the maximum sentence.

The judge delivered it almost before she returned to her seat in the courtroom and Harris was led away.

Hicks, who pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution in the first degree and criminal possession of the weapon in the second degree, will be sentenced Wednesday.