Thursday, May 5, 2011

Charges stack up against Zahra Baker’s stepmom

District Attorney Jay Gaither is racking up charges against Elisa Baker, who is accused of second-degree murder in the death of her 10-year-old stepdaughter Zahra Baker. Elisa Baker now faces at least 23 charges. All but two are unrelated to Zahra’s death. And most are for relatively minor offenses – worthless checks, unsafe tires, driving without a license – that few prosecutors spend much time on.

Gaither says his strategy is: The more charges against Baker, the more bargaining power he may gain as he pursues his real goal of convicting Baker in the killing. And the more convictions he can obtain in the smaller cases, the more prison time Baker would get if she’s convicted in the murder.

"The prosecution has a plan and we are proceeding on course," he says.

On Wednesday, Baker, 42, appeared at the Caldwell County Courthouse wearing a bulletproof vest and surrounded by armed guards. She pleaded not guilty to four counts of identity theft for allegedly using a relative’s personal information to get electricity turned on at a house where the family was living in March 2010.

Prosecutor Eric Bellas turned over 114 pages of evidence gathered on the identity theft charges to Baker’s attorney and pushed for a trial date to be set, according to media accounts.
Gaither has also pushed for a trial on Baker’s obstruction of justice charge.

Zahra Baker was reported missing on Oct. 9 and became the subject of a massive search that gained attention worldwide as people saw photos of the girl's smiling face and heard the story of her difficult life and shocking dismemberment. Zahra survived cancer, lost a leg, and lived with a hearing impairment.

Elisa Baker has been held in the Catawba County Jail since October, charged with obstruction for writing a phony ransom note to make it appear Zahra had been kidnapped.

Gaither charged Baker with second-degree murder in February, after reportedly entering an agreement with her not to seek first-degree murder charges in exchange for Baker’s assistance finding Zahra’s body. Baker led investigators across Caldwell County where the little girl's prosthetic leg and other body parts were recovered.

Elisa Baker told family the little girl died after an illness and that she and her husband, Adam, decided in a panic to get rid of the child's body. Relatives told the Observer the Bakers didn't take Zahra to a hospital and might have feared authorities because Zahra's father is in the country illegally, and because social workers had investigated complaints against Elisa Baker.

Second-degree murder is punishable by prison time ranging from about eight years to more than 30 years, depending on the killer's criminal record. Elisa Baker has a minor criminal record of long-ago convictions for assault and worthless checks.

Her attorney Scott Reilly has said repeatedly in court Baker is being singled out by prosecutors because of the high-profile nature of the Zahra Baker case.

He seems to be right that a lot of things are happening quite differently, but that's to be expected in many ways considering how extraordinary this case is.

16 comments:

  1. Wow, did Gaither skip the ethics class in law school? He could face federal violations and disbarment for this stunt. I want to see this woman spend the rest of her life in prison, really I do, but a prosecutor-more than any other entity really-needs to be ethical. Nothing here passes the sniff test.

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  2. This is just a joke and Gaither should be fired! He or someone botched this from the beginning! This was a auto-death penalty and then on top of that Adam stills runs around loose! Disgusting

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  3. And WHY WHY WHY has the father not been charged for his part in this precious child's slaying ????

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  4. A plea bargain for this crime is just a travesty. First degree with special circumstances should have been filed against both of these so called "parents". What shame and a poor display of our legal system at work.

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  5. All need to watch "Law abiding Citizen " to see how justice works the EASY way with Poor proseceters and low life ppl..Hope Her and Adam receive justice like in movie

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  6. @ MAY 5, 2011 8:17 PM:

    This isn't a movie it is real life and it stinks!

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  7. "Did Gaither skip the ethics class in law school? He could face federal violations and disbarment for this stunt."
    - Hardly the case. He can pursue charges as strongly or softly as he sees fit. Is he trying her for crimes she didn't commit? No. Is he trying to give her more than the maximum sentence? No.

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  8. "This is just a joke and Gaither should be fired! He or someone botched this from the beginning! This was a auto-death penalty and then on top of that Adam stills runs around loose! Disgusting"
    This was never murder 1 b/c they had no body without her confession and plea deal to take the death sentence off the table. Now Gaither is using technicalities to put together a package of consecutive sentences to ensure the equivalent of a life sentence

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  9. "A plea bargain for this crime is just a travesty. First degree with special circumstances should have been filed against both of these so called "parents". What shame and a poor display of our legal system at work." they had no case without a body and the stepmother's confession. They are putting together a defacto life sentence that will equivalent to murder 1

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  10. Where did Gaither get his law degree? It must have been from one of those fly by night mail order colleges. He clearly has no grasp of what all is involved in a murder case and how it is supposed to be handled. He should be disbarred for allowing that POS Adam Baker to roam free...

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  11. In this country, you don't become disbarred for failing to incarcerate a person because of a lack of evidence. Prosecutors can't pull evidence out of their ass. They have to follow every rule of the law so as not to jeopardize the legally punishable crimes-those with sufficient evidence.

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  12. A bigger crime.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpBPVkpmoeg&NR=1

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  13. This is all I will say about all of this... If for some reason these two do not get the death penalty, I will do the job myself!!! They both deserve to die!!!

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  14. If our legal system can't bring these 2 so-called parents to justice, I think we should send them each to prison and let the prisoners take care of them!!! THAT would be justice!!

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