Wyoming Man Faces Life In Prison For Jail Death, Forced Anal Smuggling

A Laramie man accused of giving fentanyl to a fellow jail inmate, causing his death, and forcing another inmate to smuggle a pill in his anus faces life in prison because of harsher federal charging options not available to state prosecutors.

Clair McFarland

March 20, 20234 min read

Christopher Charles Baker

Accused of causing another jail inmate’s fentanyl death, a Laramie man faces a possible life sentence in federal prison.  

Federal authorities have tripled the charges against Christopher Charles Baker, 43, who originally faced up to 30 years in prison for allegedly smuggling fentanyl into the Albany County Detention Center in March of last year. 

With new charges against him, Baker now faces a life sentence in connection with the death of fellow inmate Robert Ridinger, who died the day after Baker arrived at the jail.   

Super Duty  

Baker’s case stems from March 11, 2022, when sheriff’s deputies found a “suspicious” Ford Super Duty truck near a trailer house in Laramie. The vehicle was believed to have been stolen and had incorrect license plates.   

Baker stuck his head out of the window while deputies investigated the vehicle, according to an evidentiary affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming.   

Deputies called Baker outside, and he met with them. Baker said the truck wasn’t stolen but belonged to his friend, the affidavit says. The deputies arrested Baker on an outstanding warrant for an earlier offense and took him to the jail.   

Meanwhile, other deputies found two blue pills in the truck believed to be counterfeit OxyContin and contain fentanyl, the affidavit says.   

Anal Pill   

The next day, the affidavit alleges, Ridinger died in the jail pod he shared with Baker.   

Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agents interviewed Baker, who said another inmate, Nathan Kallevig, had the smuggled pills in his anus, the affidavit says.   

Agents then interviewed Kallevig, who said that he did have a pill in his anus because Baker forced him to put it there. 

Kallevig said Baker implied that he was affiliated with a white-supremacist prison gang and Kallevig would get hurt if he, Kallevig, didn’t put the pill in his anus, according to the affidavit.   

Kallevig gave the pill to agents, “which was in fact concealed in his body cavity,” says the affidavit.   

Police collected it and sent it to the Wyoming State Crime Laboratory, where it tested positive for fentanyl.   

Another Overdose  

Law enforcement agents interviewed the other men in the pod, including Joshua Nichols, another inmate who overdosed on about March 12 or 13, 2022.   

Nichols claimed that Baker had eaten 10 pills overnight and that he had brought about 15 pills into the pod altogether. Nichols said Baker bit a pill in half and split it with him. Nichols said he told Baker not to give the other men any pills, the affidavit relates.   

Baker told Nichols that he, Baker, was going to keep the rest of the pills because he did not want to “get sick,” which the affidavit writer interpreted as meaning that Baker didn’t want to go through withdrawals.   

Because, Feds  

Baker’s original federal charge in October was one count of fentanyl distribution, which carried a maximum 30-year sentence and a possible $250,000 in fines.   

His new indictment, brought Thursday, alleges one count of fentanyl delivery resulting in a man’s death, another count resulting in “serious bodily injury” and another simple fentanyl delivery charge.   

Federal law includes a life-sentence option when drug dealers’ customers die, but Wyoming law doesn’t have that option unless the customer is a child.   

Baker originally arrested by state authorities, but the federal U.S. Attorney’s Office for Wyoming took over his case, subjecting Baker to the possibility of the life sentence.   

Sheriff’s Race  

Because Albany County Sheriff Aaron Appelhans did not reference the death in public until October, Baker’s case brought to light transparency concerns in the later days of the sheriff’s election race. Appelhans told media outlets at the time that the delay was because of a “families first” approach to relating the tragic news.   

He won the election Nov. 8.   

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter