Law enforcement officials have begun an investigation into an expletive-laden court filing that threatened the lives of Superior Court Judge Bobby G. Peters and prosecutor Mark Post.
Court officials say the hand-written letter, purportedly signed by convicted Talbot County murderer Roger Lee Baker Jr., is among the most vitriolic threats they've received in recent memory. The author accuses Peters of framing him for the 2007 murder of Calvin Ellison, and promises to find the judge upon his release from state prison.
"I believe Mr. Baker is mad with himself in that he has ruined his life by taking the life of another man," Peters said, "and since the appellate courts have now said there were no errors made during his trial, his hope for a new trial was shattered."
Baker, 44, is serving a sentence of life plus 20 years for Ellison's shooting death. The signature on the letter, filed Friday in the Talbot County Superior Court Clerk's Office, is almost identical to previous motions Baker has filed in federal court.
"I plan to cause you unbelievable pain," the letter warns. "I will find you and hit you directly in your face and pray it break every (expletive) bone in that corrupted face of yours. I’ll take your buddy, Mark C. Post, and do the exact same. I want to hurt both of you dearly, and I will soon.”
Baker challenged Peters to "file a warrant and prosecute me for that threat" so he can have another day in court and seek to prove he was framed.
"It's potentially a crime," said Post, who alerted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to the threatening communication. "You can’t go around threatening anybody. Unfortunately in our line of work, it’s not completely out of the ordinary.”
Agent Wayne Smith of the GBI said his agency is evaluating the threat. "As you can imagine, public officials receive threats from inmates fairly often, and we have a fairly good process for threat assessment when this occurs," he wrote in an email. "We will investigate as a potential terroristic threat from a criminal standpoint."
Post, who recently lost his bid to unseat District Attorney Julia Slater, said he had no reason to believe the letter was related to a bullet fired through a window of his campaign office less than a week before the General Election. Campaign officials had determined the shooting was a random incident.
"We take any threat to any part of the judiciary extremely seriously," Maj. Randy Robertson of the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office said this morning. "I can promise you that our investigators will look at this thing from every possible direction."
A Talbot County jury in April 2008 convicted Baker of murder for gunning down Ellison, 58. According to trial testimony, Ellison apparently tried to intervene in an argument between Baker and his brother.
Ellison recently had been seen with Baker's girlfriend, and the career criminal became enraged upon seeing him and warned him not to come onto his property. Baker ran inside and grabbed a kitchen knife, according to court documents, and Ellison picked up a brick in response.
Baker then ran upstairs and grabbed a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun from his elderly father, chased after Ellison and fired several shots. A shot to the chest killed him before paramedics and police arrived.
"I think he’s fully capable of doing something stupid," Post said of Baker. "He has before.”