Woman pleads guilty in Duluth murder case

Tara Rai Baker did not serve as the getaway driver for a trio of suspects in the fatal shooting of Duluth college student William Grahek, her brother testified last week.

Tara Rai Baker did not serve as the getaway driver for a trio of suspects in the fatal shooting of Duluth college student William Grahek, her brother testified last week.

But after learning of the botched robbery, Baker did give one of the men a ride home and later lied to investigators in an attempt to cover up their actions on Feb. 14, 2017.

Baker, 23, admitted as much Wednesday in State District Court, pleading guilty to a felony count of aiding an offender as an accomplice after the fact.

She is the second of five defendants to admit her role in the case - just five days after her brother, Noah Duane Baker, pleaded guilty to intentional second-degree murder.

For more than a year, Tara Baker faced allegations that she helped the three men - her brother, her boyfriend Deandre Demetrius Davenport and a third man, Noah Anthony Charles King - flee the scene after Grahek was shot during the attempted heist of drugs and cash from his East Hillside residence.


Baker had disputed the claims, and she was set to go to the first trial in the case next month. Her brother, in pleading guilty Friday, also denied that she was behind the wheel of her Jeep, which was captured on surveillance camera in the area shortly before and after the shooting.

With the plea, the St. Louis County Attorney's Office dropped Tara Baker's original charges of aiding and abetting intentional second-degree murder and attempted first-degree aggravated robbery.

The aiding an offender conviction carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison, but the terms of the sentence will be open to argument from both prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Mark Munger scheduled sentencing for May 24 - the same day Noah Baker is expected to receive a 30-year prison term.

Noah Baker testified last week that he went with Davenport and King to Grahek's residence, 510 E. 11th St., to steal a safe containing drugs and cash. But when Grahek refused, he said, Davenport shot him twice.

Noah Baker testified that he traveled to the scene with Davenport in Tara Baker's Jeep. All three of them lived together in an apartment at 1807 E. Third St. He said they initially went to King's residence, across an alley from Grahek's house, to change clothes before the robbery.

While fleeing the scene, Noah Baker said, they began to change out of their all-black attire, and went back to the Third Street apartment. He said his sister then gave Noah King a ride home.

Later, Davenport and the Baker siblings retreated to a Superior hotel room allegedly arranged by Xavier Alfred Haywood in the aftermath of the shooting. It was there that authorities said Davenport admitted to Tara Baker that he had shot Grahek.


Interviewed by police after spending a few days at the hotel, authorities said Tara Baker provided a false alibi for herself and her co-defendants. In addition, she claimed that she was the only person to drive the Jeep on Feb. 14, according to the amended complaint.

Baker will remain at the St. Louis County Jail as she awaits sentencing. The three remaining co-defendants are all set to appear in court again late next week.

Davenport and King are each charged with four counts, including first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted. Haywood is accused of aiding an offender.

An amended complaint filed this week against Haywood adds allegations that he helped destroy evidence. Noah Baker testified that in the days after the shooting he and Haywood recovered and burned the black clothing, which Baker and Davenport had initially hidden in the Chester Bowl area.

The amended complaint also states that Haywood made "frequent visits" to the Superior hotel room and later lied to police about his knowledge of the shooting.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
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