Iraq war veteran gets three life terms in Reedley slaying attempts
By Marc Benjamin | The Fresno Bee | Published: November 7, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. — An Iraq war veteran was sentenced to three consecutive life terms and two sentences of 25 years to life for trying to kill his estranged wife, her brother and mother in their Reedley home in 2009.
Judge Edward Sarkisian Jr. imposed the sentence Tuesday against Dejon Baskin, 29, a former U.S. Marine.
Baskin was found guilty in September of three counts of attempted murder. The charges carried sentencing enhancements, including premeditation and using a gun and a knife.
On July 16, 2009, he held his wife, Rachel Laura Baskin, and her mother and brother hostage, stabbing and shooting them.
Defense lawyer Eric Schweitzer tried to establish that Baskin's behavior was triggered by post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he was sure Baskin, who was trained to kill using a knife and gun, didn't intend to kill anyone.
Schweitzer said he wanted the judge to impose a less severe concurrent term of life in prison with 25 years to life for enhancements. Under that sentence, Baskin also would have spent the rest of his life in prison, he said.
"We need to open our eyes to the fact that this is not an isolated case," he told the judge. "War comes home." Throughout the hearing, Dejon Baskin showed no emotion. He answered two of the judge's questions with crisp "yes, sir" responses.
But prosecutor Lisa Sondergaard said Dejon Baskin coldly calculated his plan.
She called the attack "the most egregious, horrific, gut-wrenching crime I have even seen in my years as a prosecutor." Baskin violated their trust, a trust they willingly offered because he was family, Sondergaard said.
The crime was made more haunting because of the premeditation — buying a gun and knife — and then dressing in a hooded sweat shirt in the middle of summer to invade his estranged wife's home.
In her statement, Rachel Baskin said she begged her husband to allow her brother, mother and their toddler daughter to leave the house so he could murder her, but he refused.
"At one point, I loved you more than life itself," she said. "Now, there are no words to describe how much I hate you."