Milwaukee man on trial in Desiree Harrell killing

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The man accused of fatally shooting Milwaukee community activist Desiree Marie Harrell went on trial this week. The jury began deliberations on Jan. 30.

Raymond Earl Baker is charged with first-degree intentional homicide.

On Jan. 2, 2012, Milwaukee police responded to a call about gunshots fired in the 3800 block of North 24th Street. There, officers found Harrell, a popular 43-year-old activist in the LGBT community, slumped over in the front seat of her Buick Regal. She had been shot eight times.

On Jan. 4, some 200 friends and family gathered at the crime scene in the North Side neighborhood for a candlelight vigil and to share memories of a woman described as a lover, big sister, mentor, protector and friend.

The next day, a homicide charge was filed against Baker, who initially went to Milwaukee Police Department district headquarters with two other women to provide with an alibi for the time of the shooting.

Finding inconsistencies in the stories, police arrested Baker, who allegedly confessed to killing Harrell because she was his wife’s lover and had been harassing him. The defendant, according to police records, said he was concluding a drug deal when he noticed Harrell in her car. He allegedly approached Harrell and, after a brief conversation, shot her with a .40-caliber Glock that he then hid in a garbage can.

Baker initially pleaded not guilty and the lengthy process of preparing for a trial – or negotiating a plea agreement – began.

Last spring, Baker changed his plea to guilty but a court record stated, “Parties CANNOT stipulate to the complaint as a factual basis to sustain defendant’s plea. COURT DOES NOT ACCEPT DEFENDANT’S PLEA.”

Later, Baker entered a third plea – not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect – and he was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

The trial began with jury selection on Jan. 28, followed by consideration of several motions, including one to dismiss that was denied.

Several detectives with the Milwaukee Police Department testified on Jan. 29 and again on Jan. 30.

Both the state and the defense rested on Jan. 30, when the jury began deliberations, which were to resume this morning (Jan. 31).