Family shows support for Amber Alert suspect

Baby’s mother claims police report is inaccurate

WARREN — More than a dozen people were in Warren Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gysegem’s courtroom Tuesday in support of James A. Stennett, who is facing charges of domestic violence and interference with custody in connection with an assault of his girlfriend at their home Thursday that led to an Amber Alert being issued.

Gysegem said an evaluation done by Coleman Services indicates that Stennett, 20, 1999 Hazelwood Ave. SE, is not a danger to himself or others. Stennett was assigned a bond of $2,500 and given another court date of May 23.

Gysegem, however, ordered Stennett to report to the court’s probation department and meet with Valley Counseling Services.

“You are to possess no weapons and are not to have any problems involving police or with Children Services,” Gysegem said.

During Tuesday’s bond hearing, Stennett, who was arraigned via video from the Trumbull County Jail, signaled hearts with his hands to those in the courtroom supporting the effort to get him out.

Many of his supporters were wearing blue t-shirts that either had “free James” on the front or “free scoob” on the back.

“Scoob” is his nickname, according to one of the supporters.

Stennett is alleged to have choked his girlfriend, Kara Baker, 19, while she laid next to their 2-month-old son in the living room and kicked her while she was in their bathroom during an argument, according to a police report. He then took their child from the home.

The couple has lived at the Hazelwood address for about a year.

An Amber Alert was issued because he took the baby. Baker also told police he threatened to shoot them if they tried to take the baby back, according to a police report.

“If the police try to take the child away from him, he was going to shoot them in the face,” according to the report.

She told officers that Stennett carried a rifle between the driver and passenger seats of his car, according to the police report.

Baker called the Tribune Chronicle stating information in the police report was not accurate.

“It was my mother who gave some of the information to the police used in the report,” Baker said. “It was stated that he broke both phones, but he broke my phone and I broke his phone.”

“The report also stated he had thrown things around the apartment, but I had thrown things,” she said.

Baker also said she did not tell officers he would shoot police if they came to get the baby.

It was her mother who said that, Baker told the Tribune Chronicle.

She acknowledged telling officers that Stennett had a shotgun in the vehicle, but said he has it for protection because they live in an area where some incidents had taken place.

Baker also acknowledged Stennett placed her in a chokehold during their argument.

Warren Law Director Greg Hicks said his office looked at the video and listened to the audio of what she told officers and said they support the information in the police report.

“She told them he choked her and he would shoot anyone attempting to get the baby,” Hicks said. “We did recover a shotgun from his vehicle.”

Hicks said Baker has not approached anyone in his office to recant or change any part of the original statements.

“If she lies on the stand, she may face charges for filing a false statement,” Hicks said. “We take this stuff seriously. We are not after this woman. We see this too often in domestic cases where victims will blame themselves for what happened to them.

“People can argue, but no one should be able to put their hands on another person,” he said.

Hicks admits it will be difficult to prosecute him without her testimony, unless the police have physical or other evidence proving the assault.

“Clearly the door was broken and things were pushed around in the house,” Hicks said. “She could recant, but if that happens we would consider charging her with filing a false police report. We have to consider the manpower and time that police and other agencies took because of what officers were told.”

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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