Baldwin sentenced to 40 years for Pickett murder

John Baldwin Jr. emerges from the Boone County Courthouse Monday. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison and five years of probation for his role in the death of Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Pickett.

The last defendant in the murder of Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The sentencing hearing of John Baldwin Jr. on Monday closes a horrific chapter in Boone County history.

“We wanted to do right by Jake and his family,” Boone County Prosecutor Kent Eastwood said about bringing an end to the case six weeks ahead of the third anniversary of the killing. “I’m satisfied we’ve done that.”

Baldwin pleaded guilty last September to dealing in methamphetamine, resisting law enforcement and being a habitual offender. The felonies for dealing and resisting were the 32-year-old’s 13th and 14th convictions.

Following his sentence on the convictions, Baldwin will serve five years of probation.

Jacob Pickett’s wife was not present, but her father and brother were listening to the proceedings virtually.

Jen Pickett’s brother, Jeremy Lindstrom, read her victim impact statement which Baldwin shouted over to protest the proceedings. Afterwards, he said he didn’t need to hear that because he felt terrible for the events of that fateful day nearly three years ago.

“I’m sorry for the Pickett family,” Baldwin said. “They lost a good man.”

Baldwin appeared in-person in court Monday and immediately began vehemently contesting the plea agreement he had previously signed. He started the hearing asking to fire his attorney, Todd Sallee, and represent himself. Petit granted the motion to release his attorney but denied the withdrawal of the plea agreement. Boone Superior II Judge Bruce Petit said there was no legal basis to reject the plea agreement and grant a jury trial. The judge said Baldwin testified in the September hearing and there was a factual basis to accept the plea because Baldwin found it in his own best interest.

But the length of the hearing and the protests and interruptions of proceedings indicated Baldwin wasn’t happy with what he called a “life altering” sentence. He claimed he was overcharged and he never entered the trailer where John Ball and the shooter Anthony Baumgardt went to make a drug deal.

Baumgardt pleaded guilty in May of 2019 and is serving life in prison without parole in exchange for the state dropping the death penalty.

John Austin Ball pleaded guilty in September of 2019 on seven charges in a plea agreement and was sentenced to 48 years for, in part, providing the gun to Baumgardt.

Baldwin was the driver who assisted Baumgardt to flee officers who discovered the drug deal on that morning. Baumgardt got out of the car and Baldwin continued to flee police. Baldwin said he wasn’t present for the murder and would never have hurt Pickett who he said he knew through time he spent in the Boone County Jail.

Baldwin also pleaded guilty to helping Baumgardt sell the methamphetamine that was provided by Ball, although he denied those accusations at the sentencing hearing.

“I can sleep at night knowing how we handled this case, how we investigated it and the outcomes,” Eastwood said. “The most important thing to me and the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office was taking care of Jen Pickett and her boys and taking care of the sheriff’s department and the larger Boone County community.”

Currently serving a sentence on a probation violation, Baldwin must finish out his time before he can begin serving time on the Pickett murder. This sentence begins exactly three years to the day that Deputy Pickett was killed.

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