In June 1990, Ronald Steven Baker was found brutally murdered at a train tunnel in Chatsworth Park, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Police Department was initially stumped as to who was responsible. NBC’s Dateline episode “Night of the Summer Solstice” explores the UCLA student’s mysterious death and the person who was ultimately charged with his murder, his roommate Nathaniel Blalock.
Three years later, investigators charged Nathaniel Blalock, who was then serving a state prison sentence for armed robbery, with Baker’s murder. Blalock, then 25, pleaded not guilty to the grand jury indictment of murder with the special circumstance of lying in wait, the LA Times reported.
Where is Baker’s former roommate today?
Blalock Was Sentenced to Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole
Duncan Martinez, who was also Blalock and Baker’s roommate, came forward in 1993 and confessed to what happened. He said he and Blalock had plotted to kidnap Baker and ask his parents for ransom money but Blalock then decided to kill Baker after the kidnapping note was sent, the Daily Bruin reported.
Deputy District Attorney Serling Norris said, “Their theory was that they were going to kill the victim first, so they couldn’t be identified, or so there wouldn’t be any difficulties with having him around when they made ransom demands,” the outlet wrote. Martinez said when they got to the tunnel in Chatsworth Park, Blalock stabbed Baker 18 times and slit his throat. The two then disposed of the evidence, the Daily Bruin reported.
According to prosecutors, Blalock confessed to the crime when he learned that Martinez would be testifying against him but said the murder was Martinez’s idea. Blalock’s trial took place in 1996, three years after his arrest and six years after Baker’s murder. In March 1996, Blalock was convicted of murder, the LA Times reported.
Nathaniel Preston Blalock, now 53 years old, is serving his sentence of life without the possibility of parole in Mule Creek State Prison, where he was admitted on June 26, 1996, public records with the California Department of Corrections show. The Mule Creek State Prison is a facility for male inmates that opened in 1987 in Ione, California, just southeast of Sacramento.
Duncan Martinez Was Also Charged With Baker’s Murder & Sentenced to Life in Prison
Martinez, who delivered Baker’s eulogy at the funeral, confessed to the crime and helped authorities charge Blalock. The LA Times reported that Martinez taped three conversations with his former roommate Blalock, which included a taped confession. Despite Martinez’s assistance with the case, prosecutors decided to charge him with murder as well because he was “very active” in the killing, the outlet wrote.
Baker’s mother told the outlet that Martinez and Baker met when they worked at Sears, Roebuck & Co. and they lived together for about a year, with Martinez attending Baker family events. After Martinez’s arrest, Baker’s mother said, “I think it’s proper that they (Blalock and Martinez) are both being charged because it’s clear they were both involved.”
Martinez was found guilty of Baker’s murder in his trial in December 1996 and, like Blalock, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. However, Martinez’s sentence was commuted in the summer of 2020 and he became eligible for parole, which was granted in December 2020.