Famed Tahlequah attorney Donnie Baker died this morning of COVID-19, according to family and friends.
Baker, brother of former Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker, was a longtime attorney in the Tahlequah and Muskogee areas, winning big cases and gaining acquittals for many clients. His win rate made him the go-to attorney for many people accused of major crimes.
His niece, Nikki Baker, was a longtime prosecutor in Muskogee County under former DA John David Luton.
Multiple friends said they saw Baker last week and he “was fine,” they said. Family friends reported he was in Oklahoma City in intensive care this morning when he passed.
The virus has surged through Oklahoma in the last several weeks, with record-high numbers of infections and hospitals across the state running out of beds to treat its victims. Though other states are implementing mask mandates to help prevent the further spread of the disease, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt says he will not issue one, instead advising citizens to keep distance from each other, wash hands and wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible.
It is unclear where or when Baker contracted the virus.
Muskogee County has had a total of 2,832 cases of COVID-19, with a total of 28 deaths. There are currently 375 active COVID cases in the county, with the caveat that there are some duplicates on the official list.
A Muskogee mask mandate failed in the City Council this week, but Mayor Marlon Coleman has said he will propose another one next week.