Trial opens in Culberson case
Baker allegedly helped her killer

Monday, May 18, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON -- Jury selection is to begin today for a man accused of helping Vincent Doan cover up Carrie Culberson's death.

Mr. Doan is serving a life sentence for kidnapping and murdering the Blanchester woman, although her body has not been found. Clinton County prosecutors will try to show that Tracey Baker, Mr. Doan's half brother, was an accessory.

There were veiled references during Mr. Doan's trial that Mr. Baker helped dispose of Ms. Culberson's body in August 1996.

Mr. Baker, who has been in Clinton County Jail since September in lieu of $105,000 bond, says he is innocent.

Defense attorney Scott J. Frederick said he will ask the jury to listen closely to the evidence prosecutors present. Their extensive investigation has not yielded much, he said.

"Their take on this is that the evidence fits," said Mr. Frederick, a lawyer from Hamilton. "Our case is that it doesn't."

Clinton County Prosecutor William Peelle would not comment on the case.

Mr. Baker, a long-distance truck driver, faces felony charges of two counts of obstructing justice, one count of tampering with evidence and one count of gross abuse of a corpse. If Mr. Baker is found guilty on all counts and is sentenced to serve consecutive terms, he would serve a maximum of about 16 years.

During Mr. Doan's trial, Mr. Baker's wife, Lori, testified that Mr. Doan was covered in blood when he came to her home about 3 a.m. the night Ms. Culberson, 22, disappeared. An hour later, her husband and Mr. Doan left with seven garbage bags and a gun, she testified. When they returned, Mr. Baker cleaned his clothes and boots while Mr. Doan showered.

Tests showed blood on Mr. Baker's boots, but they could not determine whether it matched Ms. Culberson's blood type.

The sensational trial in Clinton County Common Pleas Court attracted Court TV and media from Dayton and Cincinnati.

The story continued to unfold in September when a Clinton County grand jury handed up an 11-count indictment related to the crime. In addition to charges against Mr. Baker:

Blanchester Police Chief Richard Payton is accused of mishandling the investigation. He is charged with obstructing justice and dereliction of duty. He has pleaded not guilty. Trial begins in September.

Mr. Doan's father, Lawrence Baker, is accused of helping conceal the crime. He is charged with obstructing justice and tampering with evidence. He has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled for August.

Debbie and Roger Culberson, Carrie's mother and father, plan to be in the courtroom today. For Debbie, this is just the next phase of a long, 21-month quest to find her daughter's body.

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