SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - In April of 2014, Gary Wayne Baldwin, at the time 63-years-old, picked up a 5-year-old girl from her home, telling the girl's mother that he was taking her to Walmart to buy a toy and have ice cream. In fact, he took the girl to his home where he performed a sex act on her.
On Thursday Baldwin pleaded guilty under the terms of an Alford Plea, and was given a suspended sentence and ordered to register as a sex offender for the next thirty years.
In testimony given in court, prosecutors said that the victim, whose family was well-known to Baldwin, initially told her mother that nothing had happened between the two.
The mother had become suspicious when Baldwin brought the girl home and didn't have any bags from Walmart. Baldwin told her he left his shopping cart in the store because "the checkout lines were too long."
Later, the young girl described in detail to her mother and a counselor at the Terrie Hess House a sex act that Baldwin performed on her.
Baldwin was charged with first degree rape by deputies with the Rowan Sheriff's Office, but pleaded guilty to one count of taking indecent liberties with a minor.
During one of his court appearances in the matter, Baldwin suffered a heart attack while sitting in the courtroom. Bailiffs rushed to his aid and were credited with saving his life.
In court on Thursday, prosecutors explained that the plea agreement was done due Baldwin's current medical condition. He has suffered a series of strokes and heart attacks, prosecutors said, and is now living in a nursing home.
"It's against my better judgment, but I'm going to accept this plea," Judge Lori Hamilton said.
Under the terms of the sentence, the nursing home must be told that Baldwin is a registered sex offender, and in the words of Judge Hamilton, "a potentially dangerous predator."
Baldwin's sentence included a prison term of 16 to 24 months, suspended, registration as a convicted sex offender, 36 months of probation, ordered to pay court costs, pay $2800 for his attorney, and enroll in satellite based monitoring.
In addition, Judge Hamilton added a list of other restrictions, including telling Baldwin he could not go to any church that had a daycare or a nursery.