Baker lawyer hammers claim of no physical evidence link

Thursday, May 28, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON, Ohio -- So far there is no concrete physical evidence from Tracey Baker's house that shows he had something to do with Carrie Culberson's disappearance, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Investigators searched Mr. Baker's house in October 1996. A pillowcase, quilt and other items they collected did not have any of the Blanchester woman's blood, Detective Brian Edwards of the Clinton County Sheriff's Department said, as did a forensic expert from the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab. Both testified Wednesday in Clinton County Common Pleas Court.

Initial tests showed there was human blood on a bathroom sink, but further, more precise tests were negative, they said. And a pair of Mr. Baker's boots -- which his estranged wife, Lori Baker, earlier testified were blood-stained the night Ms. Culberson disappeared -- had human blood on them, but the blood was too degenerated to determine whose it was.

"The fact that you didn't find any physical evidence or that testing didn't confirm anything Lori told you, that didn't stop you from looking (for evidence) until this day," Scott J. Frederick asked Detective Edwards. "Vincent Doan, not Tracey Baker, had the stormy relationship with Carrie Culberson."

Mr. Baker is accused of helping his half brother, Vincent Doan, cover up Ms. Culberson's August 1996 disappearance and murder. The 22-year-old woman's body has never been found, but Mr. Doan is serving a life sentence for her murder.

Mr. Baker is being tried on felony charges of two counts of obstructing justice, one count of tampering with evidence and one count of gross abuse of a corpse.

Mrs. Baker earlier this week testified that the night Ms. Culberson disappeared: Mr. Doan showed up at their door about 3:15 a.m. The two men left. When they returned a couple of hours later, Mr. Baker had blood on his boots. Mr. Baker also asked her to wash a T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans that appeared to have blood on them, she testified. Her twin sister, Vicki Watkins, was staying at the house and has also testified that she saw Mr. Doan come to the door that August night. Also, the sisters each testified they briefly talked about how they thought Mr. Doan and Mr. Baker got rid of Ms. Culberson's body.

Mr. Frederick on Wednesday said the evidence wasn't consistent with the sisters' stories. But Detective Edwards testified that he believed the women. They have told the same scenario consistently more than a dozen times, including at Mr. Doan's trial last year, he testified.

And, Detective Edwards said, Mr. Baker's former girlfriend, Robin Eden, told police that Mr. Baker said garbage bags in his car trunk were left over from when he and Mr. Doan disposed of the body.

Detective Edwards also testified about two strands of hair found in Mr. Baker's car that matched a sample of Ms. Culberson's hair. Asked what he thought happened that night, based on his investigation, Detective Edwards said: "I believe they were disposing of Carrie's body."

Local Headlines For Thursday, May 28, 1998
Activists name Ohio campaign donors on Web
Adamowski sets course for schools
Baker lawyer hammers claim of no physical evidence link
Bill would force review of children's deaths
Couple face sex charges
Dedication wins kudos for educators
Downtown shutdown advised for Jazz Festival
Duke to build Union Centre office park
Fired fire chief defends his actions
For some black students, failing is safer
Going bumper to bumper stalking Beanies
Jobs will be available on Net
Khriss defense: Police didn't advise of rights
Lower-than-expected stadium bids awarded
McComb vows independence
Ohio deleting tax-cut boast
Ohio lawmakers push phone company tax break
Princeton search ends with rehire
Proposal on MR - DD upsets caregivers
Recall won't end Lebanon wrangling
Sam Lapin's risky offer is right on track
Second trial in slaying hears evidence of teens' street fight
Senators vow school aid, later
Snag threatens Butler's plan for jail tents
Specter of violence haunts school halls
Two parties, two post-primary spins
UC variable on tuition rise
Volunteers build a playground
Wife accuses police officer of violence
Williams' strength: Voters in his corner