Tempe man beaten to death by 3 VA teens after family wedding

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by Jennifer Thomas

azfamily.com

Posted on September 8, 2010 at 9:06 AM

Updated Thursday, Sep 9 at 11:09 AM

TEMPE, Ariz. -- An 81-year-old Tempe man attending his granddaughter's wedding in Virginia was beaten to death over the weekend.

The bride is from the Valley but went to college in Virginia where she met her now husband. So, George Leroy Baker III left for Virginia, excited to see his granddaughter get married. Unfortunately, he never made it home.

Baker was attacked Sunday as he stepped outside his granddaughter's wedding to get something to eat as family members continued the celebration.

Three teenagers were arrested Tuesday and charged in connection with Baker's death.

According to Lynchburg, Va., police, the motive might have been male bravado as one of the suspects was overheard saying he would hit the first person he saw in order to impress girls who were with him.

Police say he beat Baker to death.

It's a little hard to imagine that they would come upon an 81-year-old man and decide to do something like that," said the victim's son, Gregg Baker.

Baker said his father had had a wonderful night, telling his granddaughter, Leslie, how happy he was for her and her new husband.

"He said, 'If I were to die tonight, I'd die a happy man,'" Baker's son said.

But that celebration turned to mourning.

The groom learned Baker had died just before leaving the wedding and he and Leslie went to the hospital.

"Obviously, she was very distraught, upset, it's the hardest, I think, I've ever seen her cry," Gregg Baker said of his daughter.

Police officials are not releasing the names of the suspects.

The two 16-year-olds and 13-year-old have been charged with murder. Authorities say the older teens will be tried as adults.

The investigation is ongoing.

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