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Judge considers another delay of Baker trial

Nov. 16, 2013 @ 12:27 AM

HUNTINGTON — Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson is considering prosecutors’ request for a delay in the trial of Teresa Baker, the woman who five years ago killed her daughter’s boyfriend believing such action was justified in light of a domestic violence incident.
Cabell County Prosecutor Chris Chiles sought to postpone the Dec. 10 trial date. He said the prosecution needs time to secure an independent blood splatter expert to rebut opinions of a defense expert and support conclusions of the Huntington Police Department.
Defense attorney Chad Hatcher described himself to Ferguson as “shocked and appalled” by Chiles’ request, questioning if the prosecutor had lost faith in the expertise of Huntington Police Sgt. David Castle.
The city’s lead crime scene investigator testified last month as to his conclusion that Baker shot her daughter’s boyfriend, Jeffrey Saddler, in the head while he lay on his back — a key theory in the prosecution’s push for a murder conviction. The 25-year-old died Feb. 4, 2008, amid a domestic dispute with Baker’s daughter at their 156 Cedar St. residence, next door to Baker’s house and near Norway Avenue.
Ferguson took the prosecutor’s request under advisement. He assured both sides he will make a final ruling by Monday. If victorious on the delay, Chiles told Ferguson his side would be ready for trial in February or March.
The prosecutor decided upon his need for another expert after Castle testified Oct. 30. He had received the defense expert’s opinion 15 days prior as he tried another case. He reviewed the defense expert’s findings in preparation for the Oct. 30 hearing, listened to Hatcher’s cross-examination of Castle and determined he needed an independent expert to rebut that of the defense.
“I submit that it’s much more effective to do that with an independent expert than calling the witness who had already testified,” Chiles said.
The defense has long contended Sadler was an abusive boyfriend who threatened to “gut” Baker’s daughter with a knife. They insist Baker was left with little choice but to kill in her daughter’s defense, especially after Baker had called police and waited for an hour with no response from officers.
Last set for trial in December 2012, Baker’s case has been snarled by various delays and arguments, including a state Supreme Court ruling in June that blocked dismissal on speedy trial grounds. Others concerns were the clarity of audio recordings, the death of Baker’s first attorney and allegations of prosecutorial misconduct that led to three indictments.
In a related note, Baker’s attorneys asked Friday that she be released from unmonitored home confinement only to learn she had not been subject to such supervision for a significant period of time.
Records, in fact, show Baker was released from jail on a $75,000 bond in late February 2008 and placed on bond supervision, through probation, in October of that year. Bond supervision ended with the court’s dismissal of her second indictment and was never reinstated.
The Herald-Dispatch reported the court, at arraignment on a third indictment in August 2010, further released Baker from being subject to the county’s Day Report Center.
Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.

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