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Scott County convicted felon gets 5 years on weapons possession charges

Wes Bunch • May 24, 2013 at 6:58 AM

GATE CITY — A Hiltons man who was found last year with over two dozen guns in his home after being convicted of a violent felony was sentenced to five years in prison during a recent appearance in Scott County Circuit Court.

Mark Anthony Baker, 46, Turtle Dove Lane, Hiltons, was given the five-year sentence after he pleaded guilty in February 2013 to being a violent felon in possession of a weapon.

Baker also pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana, possession of a Schedule II drug, and possession of a firearm while in possession of a Schedule II drug.

Scott County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marcus McClung said the gun charges against Baker carried a five-year mandatory sentence.

“The maximum he could get for what he was doing was five years, the minimum he could get was five years and the guidelines called for five years,” McClung said. “It was no surprise to us about the sentence ... because that’s what the law called for. Minimum mandatory sentences, like he received, are day-for-day.”

McClung said Baker had an extensive criminal history dating back to 1986, with multiple prior convictions. As many as 15 cases against him were also either dismissed or dropped.

“As far as our office is concerned, this was the first time someone stood up to him in a while,” McClung said. “He had so many charges against him dropped in the past.”

At the time of his arrest, McClung said Baker had been on probation for eight months following a conviction for breaking and entering. A breaking and entering charge is considered a violent felony in Virginia.

“When you’re convicted of a violent felony in Virginia, you can’t have any ammunition or guns of any kind,” McClung said. “After a certain amount of time you can petition to get that right back, but he was still on probation for a violent felony when he was arrested, and he couldn’t get any of that back.”

The Scott County Sheriff’s Office took Baker into custody in February 2012 after executing a search warrant on his residence.

Scott County authorities obtained the search warrant after receiving a tip that Baker was in possession of guns and firearms.

The search turned up a total of 24 firearms and large amount of ammunition, as well as pain pills and marijuana.

Authorities described the amount of weapons as a small arsenal.

“There were many handguns, and many rifles and shotguns,” McClung said. “Some he and others claimed belonged to other people that he was holding. He testified that he was an avid hunter and that’s why he had the guns.

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