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Man charged with manslaughter in deadly shooting of woman in Franklin

Johnathan Z. Baker, 50, was charged May 10 in the death of Jennifer Lewis.

FRANKLIN, Indiana — A man has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting of a 47-year-old woman found dead in a Franklin home late last year.

Johnathan Z. Baker, 50, was charged May 10 in the death of Jennifer Lewis.

(NOTE: The video above is a previous report on the incident.)

Shortly before 2 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2022, Franklin Police Department officers responded to a report of a suicide attempt at a home in the 2700 block of Woodfield Boulevard. The home is in the Branigin Creek subdivision, which is located near South U.S. Highway 31.

Franklin Police Chief Kirby Cochran said arriving officers spoke with Baker, who was inside the home. 

Baker let officers into the home. That's where Cochran said they found a woman, identified as Lewis, dead. 

According to court documents, a sergeant at the scene initially believed the death may be suspicious due to multiple shell casings and the location of a gun on Lewis' body.

In court documents, police claim that a witness told officers that they received a call from Lewis stating that Baker was beating her. The witness told police they then received a call from Baker who said, "call the cops, I shot Jae (a nickname for Lewis)."

The witness told police they then received another call from Baker, who said that Lewis shot herself.

In an interview with detectives, Baker, police say in court documents, told conflicting stories of what happened, including that the gun went off during a struggle. Baker wasn't able to account for evidence located at the scene, police said, and stated at one point that Lewis' death didn't look like a suicide.

In a voicemail message recovered from Lewis' phone, Baker could be heard telling Lewis, "Now you're going to get me thrown in prison," and Lewis' final statement on the recording of, "I'm going to call the police."

The Johnson County Coroner's Office ruled Lewis' death a homicide due to a single gunshot wound.

According to court documents, Baker was on probation after pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge in September. The case stems from an incident that happened at the same address in January. 

Police records say officers received a call from a man saying his stepfather was beating his mother. When they got to the house, they say Lewis answered the door and said, “Help me,” and told police Baker was upstairs with a gun.  

Lewis then told officers Baker hit her about 75 times and choked her, saying she almost lost consciousness. 

Baker received one year of probation and counseling for domestic battery.  

Baker is scheduled for an initial hearing on June 7.

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