Baby-Napper Susan Baker Gets 25 Years in Prison

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Chipley - The main suspect in the Baby Shannon kidnapping will be going away for a long time.

A judge sentenced 52-year-old Susan Baker to 25 years in prison Monday.

Judge Allen Register handed out the harsh punishment, despite pleas of leniency from Baker's relatives.

"How bizarre and how cruel," says Circuit Judge Allen Register.

Those words summarize his opinion of Susan Baker's actions.

The 52-year-old woman stood quietly and listened as family members and attorneys pleaded on her behalf.

Her brother, Theodore Shirley, begged, "please show mercy on my sister, I understand my sister messed up, she messed up bad. The whole family don't understand how my sister's facing 35 and the mother that said she buried my niece is walking free with my niece in Texas."

Ex-husband James Baker says, "even though she went about it the wrong way, her biggest intention was to get Shannon out of a bad situation."

"Should the court sentence her to the maximum under the law in the Department of Corrections, obviously that would be the equivalent of a death sentence," urged Defense Attorney Rachel Seaton-Virga.

But Assistant State Attorney Greg Wilson said Baker deserved the maximum penalty, given her previous involvement with her stepson's disappearance in South Carolina and her lack of remorse during the Baby Shannon trial.

"At no time did she indicate she was sorry for the actions she had taken and she was very self-righteous about 'she did what she had to do' and she was satisfied with that," he says.

Wilson estimates Baby Shannon spent nearly 36 hours inside of a two-by-three-foot wooden box while authorities questioned Baker about her involvement.

He asked Judge Register to impose one year for each hour the little girl was in that box, shoved under a bed in Baker's home.

"This is one of the most bizarre set of events I have ever encountered," says the judge.

He then told Baker the facts and testimony clearly show she never had any intention of revealing Baby Shannon's location.

"No reasonable person could agree that this justified you taking matters into your own hands, I must admit as of today, I still do not know what you intended to do with this child."

Judge Register then sentenced her to 25 years in prison with credit for already serving 375 days in the Washington County Jail.

Besides the 25 years for aggravated child abuse, Judge Register sentenced Baker to five years for custodial interference and one year for giving false information to law enforcement, all to run concurrent.

She's already served 375 days.

Baby Shannon's mother, Crystina Mercer, plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of giving false information to law enforcement on October 29th and was released from jail.

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