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I have not seen Baker in person since shortly after Kari died. What a way to see him. The wide horitontal black and white striped jumpsuit. Rubber flipflops. Chains around his waist and wrists. Chains on his ankles that clinked on the hard courtroom floor as he walked. The beginnings of justice.
::clink:: ::clink:: ::clink:: ::clink::
WacoTrib.com Photo Slideshow
Picture #7 is chilling.
The courtroom was very full. Family. Investigators. Lawyers. And lots of press. The familiar faces of Erin Moriarty and Lisa Freed with 48 Hours. 20/20 and Dateline people as well. The local major news stations and Tommy Witherspoon with the WacoTrib were present.
After being seated in the courtroom, there was a "in chambers" meeting that lasted about an hour. Included in that were the judge, the two attorneys with the DA's office, the investigator with the DA's office, Matt and his attorney, Ellison, and the court reporter. My layman's interpretation of the explanation of that meeting was discussing Ellison's allegations that the DA's office inappropriately contacted Baker about a DNA sample.....Ellison wanting sanctions and/or protective orders against the DA's office for that....DENIED. DENIED. DENIED.
Arraignment time. The Judge asks Matt how he pleads to the charges of First Degree Murdery. Matt answers, "Not guilty." Of course. It is still amazing to me those words can come out of his mouth.
Next was discussion pertaining to bond reduction. Matt was on the stand and answered these planned out, boring questions from his attorney. Stuff like (and I'm not quoting, just general idea paraphrasing) Would you show up to court when the time comes? Are you a flight risk? Will you be a good boy while you wait for trial? Ellison asked him if he turned himself in this time? Well, yes, of course he did. He's working the strategy. He asked him if he turned himself in last September of 2007. Matt said, yes. He failed to mention that when the Texas Ranger came to his place of employment to arrest him.....well, did Matt turn himself in? Nope. He ran from that building. He ran. Fled. Not for long, mind you. He was advised to turn himself in. But he fled. His attorney failed to mention that little tidbit of information. Whatever. They had one lady friend testify for his sake with similar pre-planned questions (general paraphrasing) Do you know Matt and his parents? Are they good people? Do you think Matt will be good? Do you think Matt will show up to court? No surprise questions or answers. Then Ellison goes in his rants about his client HAVING A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to bond reduction. He loves to use that phrase, CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, a lot. Seemingly daring the Judge to not give him what he wants. Heck, anything for a mistrial once Matt's found guilty. Something to fall back on.
The Judge made it very clear that if Matt does meet bond and gets out while waiting for trial, it is with the condition that he has NO contact with Vanessa Bulls whatsoever! I wonder what all the background on that is. My guess is she wanted that "protection" after testifying. I'm nervous for her if Matt gets out.
Anyway, barring any hard evidence of Matt being a flight risk, the Judge lowered his bond to a 250,000 surety bond. This means he only has to come up with 10-15% to bond out. He mentioned a family friend that helped last time by putting his property on the line for money for Matt and that Matt felt this guy might be able to do it at 200,000 again this time. Surely that man is double and triple thinking what is right. Matt wasn't indicted last time. This time he is indicted for First Degree Murder with heavy evidence and a key witness that secured that indictment. Not only is there the risk that he might run....especially as more and more evidence is made known and he is NOT going to want to see the backside of those bars again.....but just on what is the right thing to do. I want to help my friends, too. But if they do something this heinous, well......there are lines I wouldn't cross. Pray for their soul, yes. Support their crime, no.
There was much talk about whether to claim Matt indigent. It's obvious he doesn't make much money. He doesn't own property. He's gone through the insurance money from Kari's death. He claimed it was only $40,000 and basically used for legal fees. No mention of down payment on expensive truck around that time. Okay. Okay. They talked about how much he made with the part-time ebay job an how much he had coming in a month for living expenses. Matt and his attorney conveniently forgot to list the money the girls get from Kari's social security. It's THEIR money, I know. I don't think it should be used for his defense fund (or his truck payment) but I do think it should be calculated in when discussing living expenses. Anyway. He's indigent. But it was SO OBVIOUS that the Judge was NOT HAPPY with Matt getting McLennan County tax payers' money for experts in his defense. Especially since Matt is paying an attorney and not going the state-appointed indigent route. Cake and eat it, too? But then Ellison brings back his client had a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to have experts in his defense. Again, the Judge had to give some. He didn't give him an open-ended check, though. He wants a list of experts and amounts ahead of time. Oh, well....I don't mind helping to pay for this trial to be done fair and right with nothing for Ellison and Baker to fall back on for mistrials of justice. Let's do it right. The Judge is being very careful and thorough and I feel good that this case is being tried in his Court.
There were a few other matters that I'm still trying to figure out. There are lots more matters coming up in future hearings. And I'm sure the news stories and videos will have much more specific information. I just wanted to give my thoughts on the day. More later.
Live blog: Hearing on bond reduction request for Matt Baker by Ken Sury w/ WacoTrib.com
Baker Pleads Not Guilty; Judge Grants Bond Reduction KWTX.com - Channel 10
I'll add more news links as I come across them.