Death comes 7 months after punch

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 3, 2010 - 11:06 PM

Adam Baker had been in a coma since he was decked in a bar fight in St. Michael in May. Now a man accused of assault is charged with unintentional murder.

Adam Baker

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A Minnesota native and Ohio resident who had been in a coma for seven months after being punched once in a fight at a bar in St. Michael, Minn., died Friday.

"At approximately 2 a.m. this morning," began the posting on the CaringBridge Web journal maintained by Adam Baker's family, "our world grew a good deal dimmer as the bright light that was Adam John Baker passed from this world to the next -- peacefully and with [girlfriend] Laurie by his side."

Baker, 32, clashed with another man outside the Corner Bar on May 2. A witness told police that Baker's head struck concrete after taking one punch in the jaw, and his prospects for survival had been shaky since.

Alexander Tuomisto, 24, who lives above the bar, was initially charged with first-degree assault. Tuomisto was additionally charged Friday with second-degree unintentional murder, the Wright County attorney's office said.

According to the criminal complaint, Tuomisto said while in a sheriff's deputy's squad car: "[Expletive] one punch. I don't know how this happened."

Authorities have yet to disclose what prompted the fight.

With Baker's death, the case against Tuomisto is being transferred from an assistant prosecutor to County Attorney Tom Kelly, his office said Friday afternoon.

Tuomisto's attorney, Frank Rondoni, said his client is "very saddened by the death of Adam Baker and is extremely remorseful concerning the whole situation." At the same time, Rondoni added that the injuries Baker suffered that night "were entirely unintentional."

Tuomisto had already pleaded not guilty to the initial charge, and Rondoni said he "doesn't anticipate any immediate change" in that plea with charges being amended.

A jury trial for Tuomisto is scheduled for Feb. 7. He remains free on $100000 bail.

Baker, who lived in Dayton, Ohio, and worked for Delta Air Lines, graduated from Stillwater High School. He served as student body president at the University of North Dakota and was close to receiving his master's in aviation management from UND before the assault. He often returned to Minnesota to visit family members and his girlfriend.

Two weeks ago, Baker was moved from North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale to hospice care after family members acknowledged in a journal posting that " the severe brain damage he experienced ... is not expected to repair itself."

"The fact is, the kind-hearted, fun-loving Adam we've been so privileged to know and love has not been with us," the earlier posting continued, "and we knew back in May, barring a miracle, that this Adam would not return to us. Our hope was that at least a part of Adam would return to us. But we know now that this is not possible."

Within moments of the CaringBridge posting shortly before noon Friday, the web page's guest book was flooded with condolence messages, coming in at times at the rate of more than one a minute. Many expressed their sorrow despite having never met Baker.

"As many of the other CaringBridge followers, I did not know Adam, but followed his courageous story," read one entry. "Take comfort in knowing he is by God's side."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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