Cumberland Times-News

Local News

December 28, 2012

Garrett man, 47, gets life without parole

Minnick adamant that he had not killed one victim

OAKLAND — Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Charles Minnick, 47, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the May 2011 slaying of Timothy Brandon Field Lax by Judge Jim Sherbin in circuit court on Friday.

Minnick entered an Alford plea in February for two counts of first-degree murder for the slayings of 24-year-old Lax and 18-year-old Jessica Irene Baker.

Under this plea, Minnick did not concede to being guilty of the murders but acknowledged that the state had sufficient evidence and would likely find him guilty. After hearing the statement of facts, Sherbin found Minnick guilty on both counts of first-degree murder.

Prior to Minnick’s sentencing hearing, defense attorney Joseph Owens made a verbal motion to the court for Minnick to withdraw his guilty plea to one count.

Minnick was adamant that he had not killed Baker, according to a news release.

After conferring with the victims’ families and reviewing various legal issues, State’s Attorney Lisa Thayer Welch agreed for Minnick’s plea to be withdrawn with the specification that the state could request that Minnick receive a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.  

Under the agreement as entered in February 2011, the state had withdrawn its notice of intent to seek a sentence of imprisonment without the possibility of parole, leaving the maximum sentence available as life with the possibility of parole for each count, according Welch.

“The state is not conceding to any of the factual allegations being made by defendant, but agreed to this resolution with the hope that Sherbin would sentence as he did — to life without parole,” said Welch in the news release.

“This provides a measure of finality to the families of the victims, clarification of the procedures to reduce potential appellate and post-conviction issues and, most importantly, assures a dangerous criminal will not be free to walk the streets of Garrett County, or any other community, in the future.”

During Minnick’s trial in February Sherbin said that he could receive two consecutive life terms.

Investigators with the Garrett County Sheriff’s Office arrested Minnick on June 3, 2011, for the murders of Lax and Baker, whose bodies were found in a campsite near the railroad tracks in Oakland.

Police found Minnick’s Smith & Wesson knife in the Youghiogheny River, in three feet of water, about 15 feet from Baker’s body.

Police concluded that the knife was “very consistent to killing Lax and could have been used to kill Baker,” according to the statement of facts. Three people confirmed to police that the knife did belong to Minnick.

Minnick, who grew up in nearby Mount Storm, W.Va., had recently returned to the area from North Carolina after serving time for a 1987 sexual offense in Cumberland County, N.C. That crime, described in public records as a forcible act of intercourse, led to Minnick being placed on the national sex offender registry. He registered in Maryland in March of last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Text Only
Local News
  • Easter experience Easter experience

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Game on: City interested in baseball study

    After it looked like the objection of a couple of constituents to a study on the feasibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area may have torpedoed the thought, county commissioners and some city officials sounded ready to sing a chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Thursday.

    April 18, 2014

  • DEREK SHEELY Charges against helmet maker stand in case of Frostburg player’s death

    A Montgomery County judge this week declined to dismiss charges against a helmet manufacturer in a case brought by the parents of a Frostburg State University football player who died of head injuries in August 2011 following four straight days of heavy contact drills in practice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GAYLE MANCHIN W.Va. BOE president speaks on issues at WVSDB

    West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin responded to issues at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind during an interview with the Times-News Wednesday morning.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • REGINALD REDMAN Moorefield man jailed on felony drug count

    A Moorefield man was arrested on various charges Thursday, including a felony drug offense for possession of amphetamines, according to the Keyser Police Department.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blossoming optimism Blossoming optimism

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
News related video
Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners