Ring leader in Niles Twp. home invasion sentenced to prison

Published 12:16 am Saturday, January 8, 2011

CASSOPOLIS — The leader of a home invasion and larceny attempt in Niles Township is headed to prison.

Todd Baker, 36 of Elkhart, was sentenced to seven to 15 years in prison with credit for 211 days already served at Cass County Circuit Court Friday. He was also ordered to pay $1,030 in restitution to the victim.

His co-conspirators in the crime, Richard Coughenhour and Jamie Goodwin, were both sentenced in December. Coughenhour received two to 22.5 years in prison, while Goodwin was given two years of probation and a suspended 180-day jail sentence.

Baker, who initially denied his involvement in the crime, was found guilty by jury on Dec. 1 of home invasion and larceny charges. Both Coughenhour and Goodwin gave testimony at the trial that led to the guilty verdict.

The offense took place June 11 when Goodwin drove Baker and Coughenhour to a home on Bertrand Road in Niles Township.

Baker broke in through a window and began gathering items from the home. When the property owner and her five year old son arrived at the home, Goodwin took off in the car and Baker and Coughenhour fled on foot.

They were later apprehended by Michigan State Police.

Baker, a habitual offender 4th who has six prior felonies on his record and was on parole at the time of the offense, was called “a sociopath” and one of the “more dangerous individuals” by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Frank Machnik.

Machnik said Baker was “manipulative” before and during the trial and shows no signs of changing his pattern of criminal behavior.

“He gets out (of prison), and what does he do? He commits another crime,” Machnik said. “The only thing that can be accomplished with this individual is to protect society from him as long as possible.”

For his part, Baker was apologetic and asked for the mercy of the court.

“I apologize to the homeowners as well as the community,” he said. “I’m eight months sober, and I have learned a lot already.”