Baker expected to take stand today

Friday, May 29, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON, Ohio -- Tracey Baker is expected to take the stand in Clinton County Common Pleas Court today to testify in his own defense against charges that he helped his half-brother, Vincent Doan, cover up Carrie Culberson's murder.

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday after 5 1/2 days of testimony. The defense called several witnesses Thursday afternoon, and Mr. Baker is expected to be their final witness today.

Mr. Baker is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of tampering with evidence and one count of gross abuse of a corpse. The charges are in relation to Ms. Culberson's August 1996, disappearance and murder. Although the 22-year-old Blanchester woman's body never has been found, Mr. Doan is serving a life sentence for her murder.

In testimony Thursday:

  • Forensic scientist Laura Kiddon from the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory in Dayton testified that two strands of hair found in the trunk of Mr. Baker's Honda -- which his wife lent to Mr. Doan after Ms. Culberson disappeared -- matched hairs from Ms. Culberson.

  • Christopher Baker, Mr. Baker's teen-aged son, testified that in October 1996 he asked a deputy guarding his father's semi-truck before a search warrant was executed if he could get some checks and log books. He testified that an uncle had sent him to get the items.

    On Wednesday, a Clinton County Sheriff's deputy testified that Christopher Baker showed up at the truck and said that his father had sent him to get a pair of boots out of the truck.

    Last week, Mr. Baker's estranged wife, Lori Baker, testified that Mr. Doan came to their house the night Ms. Culberson disappeared and that he and Mr. Baker left. When they returned, she testified, Mr. Baker had blood on his boots. Forensic tests showed the boots had human blood on them, but the blood was too degenerated to determine whose it was.

  • Mr. Baker's former girlfriend Shannon Hodson, called by the defense, took the Fifth Amendment.

    Ms. Hodson was with Mr. Baker the night he was arrested last year and has been charged with two counts of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors have said the charges stem from Ms. Hodson's attempts to keep Mr. Baker from getting arrested.

    The trial continues at 9 a.m. today.

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