Wife describes Baker's bloody clothes

Friday, May 22, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON -- Tracey Baker's estranged wife testified Thursday that she washed what appeared to be blood from his black Harley Davidson T-shirt and blue jeans the night Carrie Culberson disappeared.

Lori Baker said Vincent Doan, who is serving a life sentence for the murder, knocked on the Bakers' door at 3:17 a.m. that morning. Mr. Baker -- wearing the jeans, black T-shirt and work boots -- left with his half-brother Mr. Doan about 30 minutes later, Mrs. Baker testified.

Mr. Baker's clothes were clean when he left, she said.

But when he returned, it "looked like blood was caked under his nails and smeared up his arm," Mrs. Baker testified.

Mrs. Baker was on the stand in Clinton County Common Pleas Court most of the day Thursday testifying against Mr. Baker, who is accused of helping Mr. Doan cover up Ms. Culberson's death in August 1996. Mr. Baker is charged with two counts of obstructing justice and one count each of tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse. Ms. Culberson's body has never been found.

Defense attorney Scott J. Frederick tried to discredit Mrs. Baker's testimony.

He asked her about an affair she had with Mr. Doan that she testified lasted from March to September 1996, and about marijuana plants she and Mr. Baker grew. He also asked her why she didn't ask Mr. Baker where he was going with Mr. Doan that night.

"I didn't ask because I knew he would say it was better I didn't know," Mrs. Baker testified. "I didn't want him to leave with his brother. But he did."

Mrs. Baker said she didn't go to police with the information right away because she was scared.

Mrs. Baker also testified Wednesday that:

After Mr. Doan came in the house the night Ms. Culberson disappeared, Mr. Baker asked her if they had any garbage bags. Mr. Baker and Mr. Doan left with seven garbage bags and what appeared to be a gun.

When Mr. Baker and Mr. Doan returned to the Baker house a couple of hours later, Mr. Baker asked her for bleach and a scrub brush. Mr. Baker took the items to Mr. Doan, who was in a bathroom.

After Mr. Baker and Mr. Doan returned, Mr. Baker asked her if there was a rag to wipe his boots. Mr. Baker had spots on his boots that looked like blood, she said. "He was sitting there rubbing on it," she testified.

Later, Mr. Baker told her that police would be coming. She said he told her they wouldn't be coming for what she thought they would be coming for, but "to get rid of them anyway."

Mrs. Baker testified that Lawrence Baker -- Mr. Doan and Mr. Baker's father, who goes to trial in August to face charges of obstructing justice and tampering with evidence -- had pulled her aside after police searched the house for evidence.

She said he told her to bring over anything police didn't find at the house.

She took the black Harley Davidson T-shirt and a scrub brush to him, she testified.

Mrs. Baker will take the stand again at 9 a.m. today and Mr. Frederick will continue his cross-examination.

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