Two felons sentenced for weapons offenses by Texarkana federal judge Thursday

Vanessa Joy Baker (young's photo not available at this time)

A woman and a man who were arrested by Texarkana, Ark., police and members of the Bi-State Narcotics task force at a local hotel were sentenced by a federal judge Thursday.

Edwin Tirrell Young, aka T.Y., 40, and Vanessa Joy Baker, 27, were brought from jail for separate but related hearings before U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas. Baker, who was represented by Texarkana lawyer Matthew Golden, was sentenced to time served for being a felon in possession of a firearm. But Young, who was represented by Texarkana lawyer John Pickett, received a four-year term because of his prior criminal record.

While Baker’s mother wiped happy tears from her cheeks as Hickey announced her sentence shortly before noon Thursday, members of Young’s family wept quietly in sadness. However, Hickey made the decision to sentence Young below the minimum punishment recommended under federal sentencing guidelines at a hearing that ended around 2 p.m. Young must give the government four years.

At the beginning of his hearing, Young expressed dissatisfaction with Pickett because he was surprised that he was facing a sentence nearing the 10-year max for felon in possession of a firearm under the guidelines federal judges are advised, but not mandated, to follow. Hickey quickly explained that Pickett fought hard on Young’s behalf for multiple reductions which would mean less time behind the walls of a federal prison.

“Mr. Young, I’m going to tell you, you have a lot of criminal history,” Hickey said. “You have the highest criminal history points possible. It’s your past conduct, not Mr. Pickett. That’s why we’re looking at so much time.”

Baker was an occupant of a room at the LaCrosse Hotel when Texarkana, Ark., police and members of the Bi-State Narcotics Task Force came knocking in October 2014. A maid at the hotel had seen drugs in the room and her manager contacted police.

Inside the room, officers found methamphetamine, a pistol, Baker, and drug paraphernalia. Young, to whom the room was registered, walked in while officers were placing Baker in a pair of metal bracelets. Inside Young’s backpack, officers found hollow point bullets and a stolen pistol. Young and Baker have been in custody since their arrests more than a year ago.

Hickey ordered three years of supervised release for both Baker and Young. Federal probation officials will monitor each of them for compliance with certain conditions, including abstinence from drugs and no more law-breaking, while supervised. Violations of those conditions could mean more time behind bars.

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