Murder Trial Of Former Waco-Area Pastor Matt Baker Could Take 2 Weeks

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WACO (December 30, 2009)—The trial of former Waco-area pastor Matt Baker, who was indicted murder in the death of his wife, could take two weeks, 19th District Judge Ralph Strother said Wednesday during the final hearing before the start of the trial on Jan. 11.

Jury selection will begin on Jan. 12, Strother said Wednesday.

Ninety-four people are on the list of potential witnesses for the trial.

Baker Trial Witness List

Strother denied a defense request Wednesday for a transcript of the grand jury testimony of Baker’s former girlfriend Vanessa Bulls, but granted a defense motion seeking additional funds for an investigator.

He also denied a motion from Baker’s original attorney, Guy James Gray of Kerrville, who sought to withdraw from the case, citing a serious and material breach of confidence with his client.

Gray and his former law partner Harold Danford of Kerrville are defending Baker.

Baker is accused of murdering his wife Kari Lynn Baker and attempting to make her death appear to be a suicide.

Kari Baker died at the couple's residence in Hewitt in April 2006 and the death initially was ruled a suicide.

In July 2006 McLennan County Justice of the Peace Billy Martin changed his ruling on the death from suicide to undetermined, after an autopsy was performed on her exhumed body at the urging of her parents.

The subsequent autopsy showed traces of sleeping pills and medicine in her muscle tissues.

Baker was arrested on the original charge, but those charges were dropped after the district attorney failed to indict Baker within a reasonable time.

A year later Baker was indicted and re-arrested after Bulls came forward with information that led prosecutors to believe they could get an indictment.

Bulls testified during the grand jury investigation and her testimony was crucial to the indictment.

District Judge Matt Johnson granted her testimonial immunity before her grand jury appearance in March, which means nothing she said during the proceeding could be used against her.

Baker has been free since April on $250,000 bond.

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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