A 49-year-old Whitefish man accused of attacking, restraining and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend almost two years ago pleaded guilty to a felony count of criminal endangerment and a misdemeanor count of partner or family member assault on Monday after Flathead County prosecutors significantly reduced his charges in a plea deal.
Dylan Thomas Baker entered the guilty plea before Flathead District Judge Amy Eddy on the morning of his scheduled seven-day trial on Sept. 18. Following Baker’s change of plea, Judge Eddy vacated the trial.
The defendant was originally charged in December 2021 with a felony count of kidnapping, a second felony count of strangulation – both of which were amended – and a third felony count of assault with a weapon, which prosecutors dropped.
Deputy Flathead County Attorney Stacy Boman in May took over the case from former prosecutor Andrew Clegg, who has since left the Flathead County Attorney’s Office.
Baker’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 19 at 9 a.m. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in the Montana State Prison and a $50,000 fine.
As part of the plea deal, Judge Eddy dismissed a separate felony count of criminal possession of dangerous drugs. Baker was charged last December after a woman turned in a backpack belonging to the defendant containing methamphetamine to the Whitefish Police Department.
Baker’s legal marathon began nearly two years ago when he was arrested on Dec. 14, 2021 for violently attacking his former girlfriend.
According to an affidavit filed by Clegg, the Whitefish Police Department received a report on Dec. 13 after 10 p.m. of a female who appeared at a residence on Monegan Road in Whitefish who was “screaming and afraid someone was looking for her.”
Officers arrived to find a “highly distraught” woman with bruises on her face, duct tape sticking to her hair and wrists, who was missing her pants and shoes, and bleeding from her knees and feet. The victim told officers she’d been assaulted and restrained by Baker who was likely chasing her with a Polaris side-by-side.
Court records state the woman told officers she’d recently broken off a relationship with Baker and was moving out of his house when Baker “went nuts.” He began striking her and strangling her until she lost consciousness before taking her to the basement and binding her face, head, hands, feet and legs together with duct tape. Baker allegedly said “she was going to die.” When he left the room – likely to get more supplies – she wriggled out of her boots and pants, escaped the basement and ran to the nearest neighbor’s house, according to court records.
While at the scene, an officer observed a side-by-side driving on Monegan Road and sheriff’s deputies later discovered a side-by-side parked behind a business with fresh footprints in the snow leading to Baker’s residence.
Officers located Baker, who told them he had been home all night and had no knowledge of the report. After searching the residence, records state, law enforcement found duct tape matching the tape found on the woman as well as what appeared to be her pants, boots and belt in the basement and wet boots with tread matching the footprints in the snow.
Following Baker’s Dec. 14 arrest, he posted a $100,000 bond and was released two days later with GPS monitoring.
After almost a year out of jail, Baker was arrested again on Oct. 28, 2022 for violating his conditions of release when he failed to charge his GPS monitoring device, which he said he lost while riding his motorcycle. Other violations included possessing firearms and drugs. He was booked in the Flathead County Detention Center on a $250,000 bond.
A month later, Baker on Nov. 29 was charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs in Flathead County District Court after a woman turned in his backpack “that she felt uncomfortable possessing” to the Whitefish Police Department, according to charging documents. Items in the backpack included methamphetamine, court papers, licenses, IDs, and a passport that all belonged to him. The charge was dismissed as part of the plea deal.
Baker denied the charges at a December 2022 hearing where Judge Eddy rejected his bail reduction request.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, the Abbie Shelter operates a 24-hour crisis helpline at (406) 752-7273. Additional information can be found at www.abbieshelter.org.
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