Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 21, 2012

Teen to stand trial for bomb threat

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

NEWTON — One of the teens accused of being involved with a bomb threat at Newton Community High School is headed to trial for his involvement in the threat.

    Dominick Baker, 17, returned Tuesday morning to the Jasper County Courthouse for a preliminary hearing. The hearing was intended to decide if the state had probable cause to go to trial on the charges that he was involved in the threat, which caused a full evacuation of the high school on Nov. 5.

    Police officer Doug Bierman, who served as a state's witness, said Harley Webb, a minor, confessed to finding a cell phone near his home the morning of the threat. Over lunch at the high school, he spoke about calling a bomb threat into the school with fellow student Dakota Boyd.

    Bierman said the report says Boyd and Webb intended to call the school after lunch but did not have or know the school's phone number. The suspects approached Baker, who knew the phone number, and they entered a restroom to make the call.

    According to police reports, Webb and Baker stepped into a stall and Webb made the call. Webb then placed the cell phone in a trash can and exited the restroom with Boyd and Baker.

    Boyd, Baker and Webb were approached by police after they had been evacuated to St. Thomas School in Newton the day of the bomb threat. Bierman said a security camera showed the boys leaving the restroom near the time that the call was placed.

    Ken Gano, Baker's attorney, asked Bierman during cross examination if there was any evidence that Baker knew of the other boys' intention to call in the bomb threat when the suspects entered the restroom.

    "What Webb told me is that they went into the restroom to make the call," Bierman said.

    Jasper County State's Attorney Kevin Parker said the behavior of the boys indicates to him Baker must have known of the intention to place the call.

    "He went to the bathroom," Parker said. "Three boys in a bathroom stall don't go in there together to go to the bathroom."

    Judge Wm. Robin Todd ruled the case had sufficient evidence to go to trial. Baker will be back in the courtroom Jan. 10, 2013, for another pretrial at 9:45 a.m.

    Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.