Relatives Baker, sat in the back row of the courtroom, some crying as they listened to the hearing.
Robinson, 32, pleaded guilty in an arrangement with prosecutors. She was sentenced to up to two years in prison, but that sentence was suspended for three years of supervised probation and 45 days in custody. She received a credit for 45 days that she’s already served in jail. Robinson also was ordered to pay the Baker family $1,745 in restitution for funeral expenses.
Robinson was initially charged with murder. However, the prosecutors said they’d have to prove Robinson was not acting in self-defense. Inconsistent statements from witnesses made it difficult to prove who started the fight, prosecutors said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police were called out to Hartigan’s, a few blocks from Bank of America Stadium, on December 4, 2011. A report came in that several women were fighting. When they arrived, officers found Baker with a deep laceration on her neck. She later died at Carolinas Medical Center. Robinson, a former school bus driver, was located inside Hartigan’s and arrested.
Earlier that evening, Baker went to Hartigan’s with her two sisters. Baker’s family said she’d just gotten a new apartment and enrolled at Central Piedmont Community College to study radiology.
One of Baker’s sisters went to the restroom and “made advances” on Robinson. When they left the restroom, Robinson’s girlfriend confronted Baker’s sister, but no blows were exchanged. Later on, Baker, her sisters and Robinson ended up in the restroom together. Robinson and Baker were seen arguing, and a fight involving several people ensued. That’s when a security guard escorted Baker and her sisters outside.
Prosecutors said the security guard and Baker’s sisters claimed that as Baker stood outside, Robinson moved toward her and swung at Baker’s neck and the sisters jumped on Robinson, punching and kicking her.
Other witness statements differ. Robinson and another witness, who didn’t know any of the people involved in the fight, said Robinson was jumped as she walked out of the bar. Robinson told police she was being beaten and grabbed a bottle off the ground and started swinging.
Family members of both Robinson and Baker were in the courtroom at Thursday’s hearing. Robinson only spoke to say “yes, sir” and “no, sir” to the judge. She clutched a tissue, to wipe her tears.
Sharon Carr, Baker’s aunt, addressed the court, describing her niece as an inspiration, a joy and someone who always had a smile on her face. She said only God, Baker and Robinson know what happened the night of the killing.
“I hope this is a learning experience for everybody,” Carr said.