Deputy facing federal charges says he'll call Lee Baca to the stand

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An L.A. County sheriff's deputy on trial for trying to thwart an FBI investigation into inmate abuse in L.A.'s jails said Monday he'll call former Sheriff Lee Baca as a defense witness in his upcoming trial.

James Sexton, charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy, was tried in May, but a jury split on the question of his guilt. His second trial is set to begin September 9.

Sexton's attorneys said they'll call Baca to testify about what orders he gave during the episode. His defense is that he was just following orders.

The charges involve events dating back to 2011, when federal agents were investigating allegations of inmate beatings and deputy corruption in L.A.'s downtown jails. A group of deputies discovered an inmate working as an FBI informant and hatched a plan to hide the inmate from his FBI handlers.

Six former members of the sheriff's department - two lieutenants, two sergeants, and two deputies - have already been convicted of the plot and are scheduled to be sentenced September 8. Sexton was tried separately. 

They, like Sexton, argued they were following orders from then-Sheriff Lee Baca and Undersheriff Paul Tanaka to hide the inmate hidden for his own security.

During the first two trials, Tanaka testified he gave orders to keep the inmate safe - but didn't recall ordering the specific tasks that led to charges against the lower-ranked deputies. Baca was never called to the stand, but some witnesses testified the former sheriff was angry about FBI involvement in his jails. 

Federal Distrct Judge Percy Anderson has not yet ruled on what evidence will be allowed in Sexton's retrial.

Defense attorneys have asked the judge to limit testimony about the alleged civil rights abuses that spurred the FBI's investigation.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have asked that Sexton not be able to argue he was following orders, unless there's evidence he personally received instructions to do what he allegedly did.

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