Two Sentenced in Death of UMD College Student

Updated: May 24, 2018 06:52 PM

A man has been sentenced to prison time in the death of a UMD college student, while his sister will not have to serve prison time if the abides by the terms of probation.


Twenty-year-old Noah Baker pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Will Grahek.  Tara Baker pleaded guilty to aiding an offender.

At sentencing Thursday, Noah Baker was sentenced to 30 years in prison.  Tara Baker received a sentence of four years and nine months, but the sentence was stayed as long as she abides by terms of probation for six years.

Grahek's mother, Heidi Grahek, said he was wonderful and fun-loving. 

"Children are not supposed to die before their parents," Heidi Grahek said.

She said Will had called Jon, his father, earlier that day to tell him that he had been accepted into full-time military service. She said 20 minutes later, they got the call that Will had been shot. Shortly after that, they got another call, saying he had died.

One year later, in January, Will's father, died of cancer. Heidi said that when he was diagnosed, the doctor gave him 2-5 years to live. He only lived seven more months. She said the intense grief prevented him from fighting the cancer. 

Noah Baker did not make any statement in court. His attorney, Keith Shaw, said he knows Noah is remorseful. 

Shaw said Noah will "be reminded every day of what he's done" when his cell door slams shut behind him. 

Judge Mark Munger said even though Noah may not have pulled the trigger, he is just as culpable as the other defendants. 

"You'll serve until your 40th birthday. That's an awfully long time," he told Noah Baker. "But it is time that you have to spend, whereas Soldier Grahek has no time to spend. You took that away from him."

As Noah left the courtroom, his mother shouted, "God knows my boy." He blew a kiss to his family and said, "Keep your head up. I'm good."

During her hearing, Tara Baker read a tearful apology, saying, "How does someone apologize for something that was so tragic and affected so many lives?" 

She told the Graheks that she is "truly sorry."

"I had no knowledge that anything like that would take place that day," Baker said. "I do understand that what I did was wrong, and I was in a very hard place. I should have never lied to the police."

Tara said she prays for the Graheks often and prays that one day, they will forgive her.

Because Grahek was going into full-time military service, Judge Munger also ordered Tara Baker to complete 120 hours of community service related to veterans as part of her probation terms.

The Bakers were among five people charged after Grahek was fatally shot in his Duluth home on Feb. 14, 2017.  The cases against Noah King, Deandre Davenport, and Xavier Haywood remain pending.

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