Tuesday, July 22, 2014

60-day sentence sends man running from court

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 3/7/2014

Mark Wayne Baber surprised an Ottawa family when they found the stranger standing in their kitchen last summer.

On Thursday, he surprised law enforcement officials by bolting from the courthouse.

Law enforcement officials continued to search Friday for the 31-year-old Ottawa man, who ran from court security Thursday morning in the hallway of the Franklin County District Court building moments after being sentenced to serve 60 days in the county jail for a probation violation.

Baber was able to elude security and lead officers on a foot chase about 9:45 a.m. Thursday that continued outside the court building, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa.

Baber, a white man described as being medium height and about 200 pounds wearing a black sweatshirt and black pants, was last seen at the corner of Fourth and Main streets, heading west on Fourth Street, moments after he ran from the court building.

Officers with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and Ottawa Police Department combed residential neighborhoods on West Fourth Street and the surrounding area Thursday but had no luck in locating Baber.

“He had been remanded into custody and escaped from court security in the hallway in the district court building,” Jeff Richards, Franklin County sheriff, said Thursday afternoon. “He had been sentenced to serve time in jail for a probation violation.”

Baber had not been located as of late Friday afternoon, Richards said. But the sheriff said law enforcement officials had some possible leads and he was optimistic Baber would be apprehended.

Anyone who has seen Baber or who has information about his location should call 911.

Baber was on probation in connection with a 2013 felony drug case. He was found guilty of possession of hallucinogenic drugs. At the time of the drug charge, he also was arrested for driving with a suspended driver’s license.

Baber was arrested a half dozen times in 2013 on warrants from Franklin County, the City of Ottawa, the City of Pomona and Douglas County, according to Herald archives.

Baber made headlines when he was arrested by Ottawa police officers in June 2013 in connection with a pair of burglaries on Pebble Beach Lane in Ottawa after a woman discovered him in her kitchen.

Emily Graves told The Herald in June she was not expecting a stranger to come calling early on a Sunday morning at their apartment in the 1100 block of Diamond Head Road, near the GreatLife Golf & Fitness course, 1001 E. Logan St., Ottawa.

“At about 9:30 a.m., my 4-year-old son came into the bathroom where I was getting ready,” Graves said. “He said, ‘Mommy, there is a curly haired man here.’ I assumed [the man] was talking to my husband, so I asked my son if he was talking to Daddy. He said, ‘No, I think he wants to talk to you maybe.’”

Graves was expecting the man to be waiting at the front door of her apartment, she said.

“I went out towards our living room, expecting him to be outside on the front porch area, but he was standing in our kitchen, picking up and looking through items on our kitchen table,” Graves said. “I asked him if I could help him, and he looked at me like he didn’t understand me. He appeared to be under the influence of something, so I told him I think he had the wrong apartment.”

Graves didn’t realize at the time that she might have been talking with a suspected burglar who was combing her neighborhood, she said.

“He stared at me and then asked if I wanted his phone to call 911,” Graves said. “I told him, no, but he needed to leave.”

Baber is serving probation in connection with those burglaries. 

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