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Jury Deciding Fate of Dana Point New Year's Stabber

Air Force veteran Robert Sickles was killed at a New Year's Eve party nearly two year ago. Did Adam Baker of Dana Point act in self defense, or was it murder?

Today jurors continue deliberating the fate of Adam Randy Baker of Dana Point, charged with second-degree murder of Air Force veteran and Mission Viejo resident Robert Sickles.

Baker, 24, is accused of picking a fight at a New Year's Eve party in Costa Mesa last year and stabbing a man to death.

He is charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder and faces sentence-enhancing allegations for the personal use of a deadly weapon. He faces up to 23 years to life in prison if convicted.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour before going home Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy said. They will resume deliberations at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Baker is accused of fatally stabbing Sickles, 27, and stabbing Sickles' then-26-year- old friend, Brian McTeigue, about 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2011, at a New Year's Eve party at the Costa Mesa Hilton.

In closing arguments Monday, Murphy alleged Baker is a killer who brought a knife to a fistfight, but his defense attorney countered that he was just trying to defend himself at a New Year's Eve party that ended “horribly.”

“You can't pick a fight and pull out a knife in a fist fight,'' Murphy told jurors Monday.

Baker flicked a cigarette into a crowd of people and then said, “What the (expletive) are you looking at?” Murphy said.

“Those words have never been uttered by someone not looking for a fight,” Murphy said. “That is the language of the bully.”

Baker allegedly shoved Sickles, slashed him with the knife and then plunged it into his chest, Murphy argued. In the scrum, McTeigue was also stabbed in the back.

Defense attorney Gary Pohlson told jurors Baker was beaten so badly he ended up spending nearly a week in a hospital.

Baker testified during the trial that he could not recall the fight. He said he went to the party forgetting that he had left in his pocket a knife that he had been using to open boxes at his job.

“So he's at the Hilton for four hours and only during the fight does it occur to him he has a knife in his pocket?" Murphy said.

“That's absolutely insulting to your intelligence. It's untrue.”

Pohlson offered a different account.

“Adam Baker was at this party. He's having a good time,” Pohlson said. “Then he does a dopey thing. A rude thing. He flicks his cigarette. But he didn't flick it to start a fight.”

The fight started moments later, but Pohlson said it is not clear who started it. --City News Service

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