Thursday, December 31, 2009
As a possible, maybe witness for the State, the gag order imposed on lawyers, parties of the case and witnesses has finally reached out to me. So in order to not risk predjucing anything, I will have to hold off all reports and commentaries until the end of the trial. But then, look out! I'll make up for lost time.
In order to keep up with what the news stories, I'll link you up to the local news sources. They'll be covering it all along the way. Just check it each day during the trial. I might be able to link news links/titles along the way, but not sure now. So here goes:
WacoTrib.com <----Check daily for Erin Quinn's live blog.
Watch the trial live on MYTX. My Texas Television is on Channel 9.2, which is also local cable Channel 132.
You can also watch the trial live at www.centraltexasnow.com.
Let's chat on the "other side."
FYI: By "other side," I mean after the trial.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
This is just what I typed out from my notes this morning. I haven't really proofed it yet but wanted to get this out as I have had emails and calls asking how things went. Here is my unproofed, typed from scribbled notes, layman's interpretation of the pre-trial hearing this morning:
First thing I want to comment on is that Matt brought the girls to this hearing. Paraded them in front of news cameras. They were in the courtroom for a while and then they sat outside during the actual hearing. The "run to hug after Dad exited the courtroom" caught on video for sure. Most parents that truly love their children and want to protect them, shield them from being a public spectacle. Not Matt. He parades them like trophies soley for sympathy and pity. Is this him trying to show the world he's a great father? Little late for that. The people of McLennan County (and potential jurors) see right through that charade. Shameful.
Motion to Request Reveal Agreement GRANTED
Defendant wants to know what the agreement between the State and Vannessa entails. Crawford said he will make that known some time prior to trial. Didn't say when. Judge granted to this extent that Crawford said. It's left rather open and in the State's discretion and timing.
Motion to Quash Substance of Indictment DENIED
Danford went on about the "means unknown" part in the Indictment. Crawford pointed out that the State is allowed to plead "means unknown" or "alternative means" or "by any means known" or "by any means unknown." Pointed out that McDuff was tried, convicted and executed under such Indictment and trial wording.
Motion to Reveal Witness List GRANTED
It's been public record for a while now anyway. Gray pointed out that the State can call witnesses that are not on the subpoena list and he wants full list. Crawford says the subpoena list is the full list, including experts, to date. If they get more in the future, he will make known to the Defense.
Motion for Voir Dire of Experts GRANTED
Shafer said that the expert list was made known a month ago. Gray says the State claims to have an open file stance but that it seems to be more like 90% open. Crawford agreed. Judge was fine with that, it seemed.
Motion for Recovery of Expenses GRANTED
Gray and Danford said they need more money for their investigator to look into all those witnesses. Gray pointed out that they have nto asked the Court for money for experts, that they have none they intend to call. They just want more investigative money. Judge agreed to $1,500. Fine by me.
Motion for Discovery of Experts AGREED UPON
Defense claims they have no experts but if they come up with one/some, Gray says he'll make that known. Shafer pointed out that experts are supposed to be made public 20 days prior to trial. Gray says they just don't have any right now. But if/when he does, he'll let them know. State says most likely they'll actually call 2-3 of their experts.
Motion for Gray to withdraw as counsel DENIED
I'm confused on this one. I *thought* he said (through mumbling) that is was a scheduling conflict. He wasn't sure he'd be able to finish the trial if he started it. Something about it being in his (Gray's) best interest to withdraw but if Court says for him to stay on, he'll do so. But Channel 25 reports something altogether different. They may have talked more about it with him or the Judge or heard him better than I did. They say, "One of Baker's attorney's, Guy James Gray, asked to be removed from the case because of 'serious and material breach of conduct' - this was denied this morning." Will find out more. KWTX's words included the phrase "serious and material breach of confidence." Judge asked Matt Baker if he wanted Gray to stay on, he said yes. So Gray is still on for now.
Gray said he wanted to renew Ellison's request for the Grand Jury testimony of Vanessa Bulls to be made known to them. He said they had a "particularized need" to have that. Crawford so eloquently pointed out that the Texas Rules have done away with the "particularized need" aspect. Gray admitted with an awkward chuckle that sometimes the Texas Rules get away from him in changing so fast. Crawford pointed out that the Texas Rules allows Defendants to see production of witnesses in criminal cases AFTER the witness has testified. I am supposing that means after he/she testifies at the actual trial. Gray told the Judge it was up to the Court's discretion for him to allow them to see it before trial to aid the efficiency of the trial....not cause delays. He said it was a matter of "pure d fairness.'" Judge, "DENIED." He said he'd keep an open mind. Trial is 2 weeks away. I think he'd give it to them by now if he had any intentions to. Some of the best news of the day.
Another VERY interesting thing brought up by Gray was that the DNA evidence taken on the suicide note and bottle of pills DID NOT exclude Vanessa Bull's having touched it. Oh, really?! They tried to complain that Vanessa changed her story from the first police report where she didn't imply guilt on her or Matt's part at all. Then another interview later where she still denied it. And then on the Grand Jury she changed her statement. Well, duh. Fear and testimonial immunity can open up a person's ability to tell the truth!
Gray wanted to renew Ellison's request that no extraneous extra offenses be brought up. Judge said that is routine and he'll be sure and make that known.
Some minor changes in trial dates. They will do jury voir dire and motions in limine Monday afternoon, the 11th. Trial to start the morning of the 12th.
There are approximately 70 people on the potential jury panel. Judge gave following instructions to Defense attorneys (since they had not been in trial in Judge Strother's court before) regarding voir dire of potential jurors. NO comparison on standards of proof on civil vs criminal cases. NO setting up of artificial premises and causing controversy over it for either side.
Crawford reminded Judge to enforce and remind Defense that the gag order was still in effect for involved parties. The Judge thanked him for the reminder. Judge said Danford was quoted saying something about the nature of the State's case in the newspaper and NOT to do that. Danford apologized.
DEVELOPING: Matt Baker's pre-trial underway
by Zlatko Filipovic
Their website says they will have more information on the Texas Report at 11:00 am, Channel 25, KXXV.
"WACO - The former preacher accused of murdering his wife and trying to make
it look like suicide is having his first day in court Wednesday morning. Matt Baker showed up for a pre-trial hearing and his full trial is set to begin on January 12th. News Channel 25 is in the court and this is what happened so far:" (read more)
Story has now popped up on KWTX.com
Murder Trial Of Former Waco-Area Pastor Matt Baker Could Take 2 Weeks
"WACO (December 30, 2009)—The trial of former Waco-area pastor Matt Baker, who was indicted murder in the death of his wife, could take two weeks, 19th District Judge Ralph Strother said Wednesday during the final hearing before the start of the trial on Jan. 11."
"Strother denied a defense request Wednesday for a transcript of the grand jury testimony of Baker’s former girlfriend Vanessa Bulls, but granted a defense motion seeking additional funds for an investigator." (read more)
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
There are some VERY interesting people and businesses on the 100+ witness subpoena applications. But I won't get into those here at this time. If you're wondering if you're on the list, you can email me.
Matt has a new attorney (again) assisting Gray in this matter. His name is Harold J. Danford, a big-wig DWI attorney. Go figure. He is the one that drafted the various motions that the Court will take into consideration at the pre-trial hearing tomorrow. Here are some that I copied down along with my layman's interpretation. Keyword "layman."
Motion to Request State to Reveal Agreement
They are dying to know what Matt's *alleged* girlfriend, Vanessa Bulls, told the Grand Jury that secured the immediate indictment for first degree felony murder. The Judge has denied this motion for months. Don't know what his plan is but he's a wise man and we'll see what he does tomorrow. The defense also wants to know what the agreement is between the DA's office and Vanessa that offers her prosecutorial (sp?) immunity in this case. Very understandable. We'll see what the Judge thinks.
Motion to Quash and Exception to Substance of Indictment
They don't like that the indictment doesn't detail one specific manner of death that they need to prepare their defense for.
"Further, the indictment alleges 'by administering drugs and suffocating her with a pillow.' The defendant is entitled to know exactly what charge the State plans to proceed on at trial. This indictment alleges three separate means of murder and the defendant is entitled to know by which means the State plans to proceed. The State must make an election as to which manner and means it intends to proceed to trial under."
All three sentences say the exact same thing. These motions could be reduced to a paragraph if they weren't puffed and fluffed so much. Basically, they're confused on how to direct their defense. Why is that complicated? If he didn't murder her in any manner, he didn't murder her in any manner.
Motion to Quash and Exception to Form of Indictment
Again, discussing which manner of death they need to defend. Also,
"Wherefore, premises considered, Matt Baker prays that the Court quash the
indictment due to the defects of form outlined above, and discharge Matt D.
Good luck with that one.
Motion for Witness List
Well, that's already filed. I got it yesterday. They also are asking for the reports and data of expert witnesses. They want criminal records of each witness showing every conviction or probation for felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude which is admissible for impeachment. Sounds like a delay tactic to me. Do your own research if you're that worried.
Motion for Voir Dire of Experts
This would be a hearing prior to trial, sans jury, to discuss qualifications of all expert witnesses and determine the underlying facts and data upon which opinion is based. Not sure if this is what will be hashed out tomorrow or if it will be a separate hearing.
Motion for Recovery of Investigative Expenses
Matt's investigator has billed for another $1,500.
Defendants Motion for Discovery of Experts
Just more wanting info on experts.
The divulging of witnesses is a one-way street, it seems. The State has to post their list of witnesses but the defense does not. It's annoying but it's alright. The evidence is heavily in the State's favor. I can't imagine who or what the defense could call that would outweigh the facts and evidence.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
"Most of the pretrial motions filed last week by Danford are routine. However, in one, Baker is asking the judge to order prosecutors to reveal the details of any agreements they entered into to obtain the testimonies of witnesses, especially Bulls, Baker’s alleged former girlfriend.
Judge Matt Johnson granted Bulls testimonial immunity before her March 25 grand jury appearance, meaning nothing she said during her testimony could be used against her. Baker’s lawyers have been unsuccessful thus far in gaining access to a transcript of her grand jury testimony, after which Baker was indicted." (read more)
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
"WACO (December 23, 2009)--Former Waco-area pastor Matt Baker, who was
indicted murder in the death of his wife, is set for a final pre-trial hearing next week in Waco before his trial begins in January. Baker and his attorney will appear in Judge Ralph Strother's 19th State District Court next Wednesday for the final pre-trial hearing.
Baker's trial is set to begin on Jan. 11, 2010.
Assistant McLennan County District Attorneys Susan Schaeffer and
Crawford Long are prosecuting the case." (read more)
Trial dates set for Matt Baker
"19th District Court records show Matt Baker is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Dec. 30 and his full trial is set to begin on Jan. 11." (read more)
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Once all the evidence is laid out there for everyone to see, it will all be so clear....beyond a reasonable doubt....that Matt Baker must spend the rest of his life in prison for his crime.
Did he really think he would get away with murder? That good people would walk away and JUST FORGET? Kari was loved and WE fight for those we love....and they don't even have to be our own blood. This profound sense of justice and love may not be something someone like Matt Baker would understand. It's powerful stuff.
JUSTICE FOR KARI (AND KENSI & GRACE) IN 2010!