Former Waco-Area Pastor Matt Baker Released From Jail

WACO (April 9, 2009)--Former Waco-area pastor Matt Baker was released from the McLennan County Jail Friday afternoon, a day after a state district judge reduced his bond from $500,000 to a $250,000 surety bond, which required him to post $25,000 in cash.

Baker was released at 3:43 p.m. Friday.

Baker, who was indicted late last month for murder in the 2006 death of his wife, pleaded not guilty Thursday morning during a hearing that attracted national attention.

Crews from ABC's 20/20, NBC's Dateline, and CBS's 48 Hours were in Waco to cover the hearing.

As a condition of the bond reduction, Strother ordered that Baker have no contact with Vanessa Bulls, a woman with whom Baker allegedly sought an extramarital relationship.

Bulls testified before the grand jury that indicted Baker for murder.

Strother also ruled that Baker is indigent, but took a request for funds to pay for expert witnesses under advisement until Baker’s lawyer furnishes a list of the experts he hopes to hire.

Strother also ordered a halt to discovery in the civil suit filed against Baker by his late wife’s parents.

During a hearing earlier Thursday morning in chambers, Strother declined to sanction prosecutors for trying to contact Baker in the jail, knowing he had counsel.

Baker had been in custody since he surrendered to authorities in Kerr County on March 27, a day after the McLennan County Grand Jury indicted him for murder.

The indictment alleges Baker drugged his wife and then suffocated her with a pillow.

Paramedics arrived at the house at 12:15 a.m. on April 8, 2006, by which time she was already dead.

The death was initially ruled a suicide, but the ruling was later changed.

Baker was arrested and charged in 2007, but the charge was later dismissed.

The original arrest warrant for Baker was issued in September 2007.

The affidavit submitted for that warrant indicated that authorities thought Kari Baker was suffocated with a pillow or similar object after she was “rendered defenseless” by a combination of alcohol and Unisom.

On March 25, 2008, McLennan County Justice of the Peace Billy Martin signed an order dismissing the original murder charge against Baker at the request of Baker’s attorney because the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office had not sought an indictment within the required 180 days of Baker’s arrest.

The murder indictment was handed up a year to the day later.

Baker was a former pastor at several area Baptist churches and once served as chaplain at the Waco Center for Youth.

He holds degrees from Baylor University and Baylor’s Truett Seminary.

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