Witness says Baker took evidence
Defendant is 3rd in Culberson case

Thursday, August 20, 1998

BY RICHELLE THOMPSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON -- When police seized evidence from Tracey and Lori Baker's house for the investigation of Carrie Culberson's murder, they missed a blood-stained Harley Davidson T-shirt and a scrub brush used to remove Ms. Culberson's blood, Lori Baker testified Wednesday. Lawrence Baker, Ms. Baker's former father-in-law, wanted her to retrieve anything police had missed during the search, she said. Ms. Baker told jurors she gave him the T-shirt and scrub brush and said she hasn't seen the items since. She also testified Lawrence Baker encouraged her to lie to police.

Of the five witnesses who took the stand Wednesday, Ms. Baker's nearly three hours of testimony most directly linked Lawrence Baker to covering up the 1996 murder of Ms. Culberson, of Blanchester. He faces two counts of obstructing justice and a charge of tampering with evidence.

Juries have already convicted two of Mr. Baker's sons for their roles in Ms. Culberson's death. Vincent Doan is serving a life sentence for her murder, while Tracey Baker received eight years for helping cover up the crime. If convicted, Lawrence Baker could receive up to 10 years in prison.

Defense attorney Paris K. Ellis hammered at Ms. Baker's credibility. He questioned her about an affair with Mr. Doan that began in March 1996 and carried on about a week after Ms. Culberson's disappearance. He offered as evidence an affidavit Ms. Baker allegedly signed that said she used drugs such as marijuana and cocaine daily and had a vivid imagination, which sometimes caused her to make up stories. Ms. Baker said the document was not the one she had signed.

Mr. Ellis also intimated Ms. Baker has an ulterior motive in testifying against Mr. Baker: in her pending divorce from Tracey Baker, Ms. Baker is seeking property now listed in the names of Lawrence Baker and his wife, Betty.

The trial continues today in Clinton County Common Pleas Court.



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