Matt Baker Trial Blog Wednesday Jan. 13

JoAnn Guercio/Waco Police Crime Scene Tech

She is a finger print technician for Waco Police

Guercio is talking about the suicide note. She says there were a lot of smudges on the note. Long asks her a person will always leave a fingerprint, she says no.

Guercio says compared prints on the note to Matt Baker, Hewitt PD, and Vanessa Bulls and nobody matched. Guercio says she didn't compare the print to Kari Lynn's print because her print "wasn't available."

The print in question is a palm print.

322 pm Back from recess

Irving finished up. Clips of Baker's interviews with 20/20 and 48 Hours.

327 pm

Justice of the Peace Billy Martin is now on the stand. He is the JP that initially ruled Kari Lynn's death a suicide, later changing it to undetermined.

Crawford Long, another prosecutor is asking Martin to describe his job. Martin talks about his job duties, including signing warrants and affidavits, small claims court, inquests, and officiating over marriages.

Long asks if its Martin's job to order autopsies. Martin says yes.

Martin says he was called by Hewitt Police that morning of April 8th. He was told on the phone that police were at the scene of an apparent suicide. Martin says after being told about the case, he declined to order an autopsy.

Martin says he asked detectives if there were any bullet wounds, stab wounds, or any trauma to the body. Martin testified that detectives told him no. Martin says he asked if it appeared to be a suicide, and he was told yes.

Long asks if Martin later received additional information about the case. Martin says that sometime later he was contacted at the courthouse by Hewitt PD, and that detectives had talked to what he believed to be Kari Lynn's parents and that Hewitt PD was going to re-open the investigation.

Martin says he was asked to sign an order to exhume the body. Martin says yes.

Martin says he didn't hold an inquest hearing until after he got the complete autopsy report. At that point in time, because the autopsy results did not concur. I decided to hold a formal inquest and figure everything out."

Martin then tells the jury what an inquest is.

At the end of the hearing, Martin changed the manner of death from suicide to undetermined after hearing additional evidence.


Gray asks if it’s normal for Martin to listen to investigators about a scene. Martin says he is not an investigator and he gleams from them what he can in making a decision. Gray asks Martin who pays for an autopsy. Martin says the county.

Gray asks Martin if there was political pressure in this case. Martin asks to clarify. Gray asks how many inquest hearings he has held, Martin says in 12 years this is the only formal inquest he has ever had.

Long asks him if Martin called the inquest because of political pressure...he says no.

255 pm Afternoon Recess

223 pm

Michael Irving currently a West PD officer At the time of Kari's death he was a Hewitt PD officer

Irving was the first officer at the scene that night. Irving says when he got to the scene Matt Baker was standing in the front yard, "about 10 to 15 feet from the front door."

Irving says he got out of his car, asked Baker what was going on and Baker directed him to the bedroom. Irving asked Baker if Kari Lynn was taking any medications and Baker said yes, some form of sleeping medication.

Irving testifies that there was wetness by the pillow. Says the liquid, whatever it was, was clear or almost clear.

Irving says he saw the note, grabbed it, and read it. Irving says there were three children mentioned in the note. Irving says he asked Matt about who Cassidy was (Matt and Kari Lynn's Daughter who died 7 years before Kari Lynn's death.)

Irving reads the note:

It starts, "Matt, I am so sorry. I am so tired. I just want to sleep for a while."

Shafer asked if Irving anything unusual about the note. He says yes, its not signed Shafer asked him if it was unusual for a note to be unsigned and Irving said yes, he had never seen a suicide note that was typed.

Irving tells Shafer that Matt told him that Baker told him that Kari wanted her body donated to science. Shafer asked Irving what he thought, and Irving testified that it was unusual, only in that he wouldn't do it.

235pm Gray cross-examines Irving.

Gray asks Irving if he reported anything suspicious, Irving says he told a detective at the scene about the suicide note and the fact that Baker seemed calm. He also says that he thought it was suspicious that Baker had to "break in" to the room.

After Irving got the suicide note he asked about the other two kids, Baker said they were sleeping. Gray asked Irving if Baker met him at the door so the kids wouldn't be awakened.

Irving said he looked at three pill bottles including the Unisom. Irving said there was one pill in the bottle and two on the nightstand. Irving says he saw prescription meds in the master bathroom as well. They were in Kari Lynn's name.

Two bottles were found magnesium gluconate 43 pills phentermine 32 pills. Irving says the pills were from the Waco Weight Loss Center.

215 pm

Brad Bond / Hewitt PD Detective takes the stand Patrol officer at the time of Baker's death

Bond says he was called to the scene to take pictures.

Shafer is showing bond photos taken at the crime scene. Shafer is asking him to verify some crime scene photos.

Gray asks Bond about the suicide note. Bond says he didn't conduct any form of investigation; he just took pictures of the scene.

Bond says he didn't see anything suspicious at the time. Shafer asks if he was there to investigate and he says no, just to take pictures.

John Gates is on the stand. He is a Midway Teacher and volunteer EMT.

2 pm Judge Ralph Strother calls attorneys for both sides to the bench. Can't hear what they are talking about.

131 pm
The trial started at 1:31 p.m. after a lunch break of about an hour and a half.

The state started by asking Gates about that night, Gates said he remembered arriving at the house about 12:05 a.m., which is roughly 5 minutes after Matt Baker's 9-1-1 call. Gates testified that Matt was outside the house and appeared to be calm. Prosecutor Susan Shafer asked Gates if that seemed unusual and Gates said, "not at the time."

After about ten minutes of testimony, Baker's attorney, Guy James Gray cross-examined him. Gray asked Baker about seeing any lividity. Lividity is the pooling of blood in the body after death, and can be used to determine how long a body pay have been dead. Gray asked Gates if he noticed lividity at the time, and he said he was focused on trying to save Mrs. Baker.

Gray asks Gates if he noticed any marks or scraps on Mrs. Baker's mouth when he was trying to save her, and he said no. He said later, in photographs he noticed the marks. Gates says if he saw what he saw in the photos he wouldn't have told police. Gates says he didn't see anything suspicious.

Gray: "Appear to you to be a suicide?"
Gates: "Not qualified to say that."
Gray: "At the time?"
Gates: "At the time, because that's how the call went out."

There is some confusion about an incident report filled out by Gates after the incident. Prosecutors say they have the sheet, but Gray says he hasn't seen it. Someone has been sent to the DA's office to go get it.

NOON lunch break

11:45 am
Shelton Chapman/ Paramedic for Limestone Medical Center, Groesbeck In 2006 Was ETMC Paramedic/Training Officer in town.

Testifies when he showed up paramedics were doing CPR, that Kari wasn't breathing. She looked typical for someone who wasn't breathing. In his notes, Chapman reads she had lividity to her ears, lividity to back of neck and no movement. Blue hands. Temperature to the body, he checked cold. Says he wouldn't have initiated CPR if he was the first there. Says if he saw lividity he wouldn't have tried to save her.

11:37 am

Craig Lott --- Fire Fighter and EMT for the City of Hewitt. Operate the Truck, do my basic medical duties...lived next door to the Baker's. Got the tone out and realized that it was my neighbor. Protocol that any time we have a possible suicide we wait for PD to clear the house, once the house is cleared we go in. Make sure we are not being set-up.

Mr. Baker was standing outside the front door when Lott got there. Patient laying on the floor. She was lying on the floor. She had on just a t-shirt, panties and a bra. We checked vital signs, she wasn't breathing, we started CPR.

Lott talks about seeing her body. I did not notice any lividity, no pulse, no breathing. Lott explains to the jury what lividity is. He says lividity is pooling of the blood to the lowest point. She seemed semi-warm to the touch. She was not cold, she was not cool.

Cross examination: Did you see any scratches or bleeding? No. Did you see any trauma? No sir. Says that lividity usually occurs after a few hours. Says he didn't see any lividity in Kari. Testifies that Dead weight in a person is very hard to move. A Person needs to be on a hard surface, like the floor.

Lott testifies he didn't see anything suspicious that night from a medical point of view.

11:08 am

Kimberly Jackson friend from church. 3rd witness.
She saw Kari at the YMCA the night before she died.
she wasn't the same that night. she was crying. seemed irritable. spoke to matt the next day around lunch time to apologize and trying to get more involved in what's going on...if i had any indication that she was depressed, matt said he didn't have any indication either. Call from husband...10 or 15 minutes after 5. See them leave? sitting on a sofa, seemed a little better. didn't talk to her again. both were sitting on same sofa. both had red eyes. looked happy? no, she didn't have her head down. Had to be somewhere at 7. Happy, kind of normal. She would push her head up. Not her normal self that night. Her behavior was different than usual. Red eye. Looked like crying. Watery. Matt's body language seemed different. Irritated with her. Frustrated. I didn't interfere because there seemed to be a lot of tension between the two. I felt like I shouldn't get involved.
11 am
Opening Arguments
State goes first:
Said there are discrepancies in Matt Baker's story. That from the start his story did not make sense.
Friends and a hairdresser knew something was wrong with Kari in the days leading up to Kari's death. She was sitting on the bleachers at a swim meet and a friend could tell something was wrong with Kari. They moved from the bleachers away from the humidity. That woman called Matt the next day at noon after hearing that Kari had died and she said that she never saw this coming. Prosecutors said that Matt responded that he didn't see it coming either. Prosecutors say that there are variations of what happened that night, variations from what Matt told investigators and what came out later in interviews with the media. 911 call placed at 12:00:30 and within four minutes 2 police officers and a volunteer EMT were at the house. Prosecutors say that within that 4 minutes, Baker told investigators he dressed his wife and performed CPR on her. Prosecutors say he told police he didn't see the suicide note until a hewitt pd officer showed it to him. The suicide note was printed on a laser printer, but the home computer and printer were never found, and the printer was an ink jet. They also discovered suspicious computer activity on a computer at Crossroads Baptist Church. Prosecutors say that jurors will hear from Vanessa Bulls. Prosecutors say Bulls will tell the jury that she will tell them she was with matt before and after Kari died, and that she was in Kari's martial bed before she died.

Guy James Gray comes up. says Baker suffered from anxiety and depression. Gray paints the picture of two different Kari's. A public Kari and a private Kari. The public Kari was determined, successful, and the private kari suffered over the loss of a child. Gray said that Kari battled depression, she knew that Matt was "running around on her" and she dealt with that. Gray says Matt and Kari didn't get along. Gray says in the evidence, without dispute jurors will see that Matt the preacher was having an affair with Bulls, the daughter of the church's music director. Gray says that Baker and Bulls liked to their families, liked to cops, investigators and everyone to cover up their affair.

Gray says that the officers at the scene that night saw nothing out of the ordinary to order an autopsy. That there was no blood drawn. Gray says there was an "extremely in-depth" investigation, that police went through Baker's trash, that they found a palm print on the suicide note, that the palm print was tested, and it didn't match Matt's or any of the police officers at the scene. The only print that wasn't taken was Kari's. Gray says this was a suicide and only became a murder investigation when the family realized the affair. "It became sensational and it evolved to the point we are here now." Gray said. Gray says when it comes to the evidence you won't see any medical person testify to cause of death.

First witness, a teacher that worked with Kari. Says she was outgoing. DIdn't know here personally. Just professional.
Second, her hairdresser. Says Kari was in good spirits. Had lost 15lbs.

10 am
Juror #2 replaced. Called in sick. Woman. First alternate is a man.

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