NEWPORT CITY – Twenty-four-year-old Lee Sykes of Island Pond appeared in court Monday sporting a shiner as he entered a not guilty plea to a charge of assault with a weapon, specifically a 40 caliber pistol. Sykes is charged with shooting Eric Baker, 35, at a party held in Charleston.
Judge Howard VanBenthuysen ordered Sykes held on $25,000 bail.
Around 1 AM Sunday, state police responded to a shooting at a residence on VT RT 105 in Charleston. When police arrived, a group of people pushed Skyes against the cruiser and said he had shot Eric Baker.
Trooper Debra Munson questioned Sykes who allegedly admitted the shooting but said he did it in self-defense. Munson said Sykes had some swelling and had blood on his face.
Witness Karl Weikel told police that he was standing behind Baker’s truck when Sykes walked up, threw a bottle cap in the back of Baker’s truck and Baker and Sykes exchanged words. The exchange turned physical and the two ended up on the ground. Weikel told police he heard two shots and saw the muzzle flash.
After the gun shots, people started to pull Baker and Sykes apart. Someone in the crowd unloaded the gun and tossed it aside. Someone secured the gun and, as of the writing of the affidavit, police officers had not found it. However, with the assistance of Border Patrol Agents, police found two spent shell casings.
Michelle Baker told police that she, Baker and others were hanging out on the tailgate of Baker’s truck. She said Sykes was throwing something into the truck and got into an argument with Eric about it.
At one point, Sykes allegedly indicated that he had a gun but, according to Michelle, everyone thought Sykes was joking. Sykes and Baker ended up wrestling on the ground and then people heard shots.
Michelle Baker said she ran to the men, grabbed the gun and punched Sykes in the face to make him drop it. She said someone yelled for her to let it go and that he or she had it.
Michelle then called 911.
Michelle Baker's nephew took Eric to the North Country Hospital because it would take too long for the ambulance to get to the scene, she said.
Sykes told police he carries a 40 caliber glock pistol for protection and he had shown the gun to some people at the party. He said that he threw a bottle cap into the back of a pickup truck and that someone he didn’t know addressed him about his actions. Sykes said he thought the person was joking until the person start to hit him and he went on the ground. Sykes said the person was on top of him and continued to hit his face. Sykes said he shot his pistol twice but wasn’t sure how many times he hit the person. He told police that someone took his gun away from him.
Sykes showed police his bruised hand that held the gun. Sykes said that at no time did he tell the person who attacked him that he had a gun.
This information is drawn from the affidavits and documents filed in Orleans Criminal Court.