ELYRIA — An Elyria man pleaded guilty Thursday to reckless homicide and tampering with evidence charges in the death of an overdosing woman who was left in a field in April.
Anthony Barker, 24, was sentenced to one year in prison immediately after he entered the plea before Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery.
Assistant County Prosecutor Stephanie Malanowski and the family of Naomi Caulfield had called for a sentence closer to the maximum of six years behind bars.
“Yeah, she had problems, but there was no reason to leave her on the side of the road (to) die,” said Michele Nehls, Caulfield’s aunt.
Defense attorney JD Tomlinson said Barker wasn’t trying to make excuses for his “terrible decision.”
Barker said he was taking responsibility for his role in Caulfield’s death with his plea.
“I regret my decision,” he said in a barely audible voice. “I know it wasn’t the right thing to do.”
Malanowski said Barker, along with Gregory Ralston and Christopher Williams, were out driving around when they came across Caulfield and invited the 29-year-old mother of four into their vehicle April 11. Ralston and Williams have pleaded not guilty in the case.
The group then returned to Barker’s Raleigh Drive home where they did drugs, including the powerful painkiller fentanyl, which is what an autopsy determined caused the overdose that killed Caulfield.
Malanowski said when the overdose happened, one of Barker’s co-defendants came out of the room they were in and said, “We’re losing her. She fell out of it.”
She said Barker realized that Caulfield was in trouble because he splashed some water on her face in an attempt to revive her.
“He knew she was in bad shape, however, his words, he didn’t call 911. He thought about it, but he didn’t call 911 because he didn’t want to get in trouble,” Malanowski said.
The ailing Caulfield was then loaded into a 2009 Ford Escape and the men drove around looking for a place they could drop her off and did so in an isolated area off Old Fowl Road when the “coast was clear,” Malanowski said.
Investigators have said Caulfield was alive when she was left in the field, where she was found dead the next day by a woman taking her dog for a walk.
Malanowski also said that Barker later realized that Caulfield’s sweatshirt and shoes still were in the vehicle and disposed of the items.
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