Hitchhiker sentenced to 10 years for abducting teens in Dillonvale

SENTENCED — Jayden T. Baker hears his sentence of 10 years Monday in Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra’s courtroom. He was accused of seizing control of a car at gunpoint after being picked up as a hitchhiker. -- Robert A. DeFrank

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A hitchhiker convicted of holding two teenagers at gunpoint will be spending the next 10 years behind bars.

Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra on Monday sentenced Jayden T. Baker, 19, of Indianapolis, on counts of robbery and abduction for events that transpired Nov. 4. Baker received eight years for the robbery and two for the abduction, with the sentences to run consecutively.

Baker and another person, Tia Benson, 29, of Steubenville, were hitchhiking Nov. 4 and were picked up by two teen girls from Dillonvale, who drove them to Martins Ferry. There, Baker reportedly produced a gun and took control of the vehicle. The two girls were locked in the truck while Baker and Benson apparently drove around for a short period then abandoned the car, reportedly stealing several items from it.

Baker and Benson were arrested by Yorkville police about an hour later.

Baker’s defense attorney, Adam Myser, asked that the sentence be crafted to address Baker’s drug addiction issues. Baker apologized, adding that he was under the influence of cocaine at the time.

“At the time, I wasn’t in the right state of mind, doing what I’ve been doing,” he said. “It was wrong. I sit down every day and I think about what I’ve done.”

Vavra referred to Baker’s presentence investigation, where Baker said he had never used drugs. Baker said he did not say that during the earlier interview.

Vavra reviewed Baker’s prior convictions for carrying a concealed weapon, assault, obstructing official business, disorderly conduct and contempt of court orders.

“In this case, he used a loaded firearm to commit his offenses, which involved two victims. He placed that gun against the head of one of those young women,” Vavra said, pointing out the lasting emotional harm done.

“These offenses were done as part of a course of criminal conduct,” Vavra said. “I can’t imagine what a 14-year-old girl would have gone through and what you put them through. You’ve got 10 years where you cannot harm anyone else.”

“Mr. Baker’s conduct in this matter and his lack of consideration for the victims was both heinous and despicable,” Belmont County Prosecutor Dan Fry added.

Benson appeared in Belmont County Northern Division Court in late November, where the teens took the stand and testified to her alleged role in the matter.

She is undergoing a competency evaluation to determine if she can participate in her own defense.

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