Baker gets 8 years in Culberson case
Sentenced for tampering, obstruction

Thursday, July 9, 1998

BY RICHELLE THOMPSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Baker
Tracey Baker
WILMINGTON -- One-month-old Marissa Ann Doughman never got a chance to meet her cousin, Clarissa Ann "Carrie" Culberson.

The infant slept Monday while Clinton County Common Pleas Court Judge William McCracken sentenced Tracey Baker to eight years in prison for his role in helping his halfbrother, Vincent Doan, murder Ms. Culberson nearly two years ago.

The infant's mother, Jane Doughman, pledged to keep Carrie's spirit alive.

"I'll tell (Marissa) how much I loved Carrie," Mrs. Doughman said. "I'll teach my daughter not to get in a situation like Carrie was in."

Mrs. Doughman criticized the eight-year sentence, saying it was too light.

"He should have gotten more. When he gets out, he'll still be a young man," Mrs. Doughman said. "Carrie's gone."

Mr. Baker did not flinch when Judge McCracken announced he agreed with the prosecution's recommendation of an eight-year sentence. He winked to his family as an officer replaced the handcuffs and escorted him out.

The jury convicted Tracey Baker last month on two counts of obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence in Ms. Culberson's August 1996 disappearance. He was found not guilty of gross abuse of a corpse. Mr. Doan received life without parole for Ms. Culberson's murder. Mr. Baker's mother, Betty Baker, wiped away tears, then buried her head into the shoulder of her husband, Lawrence Baker, who faces an August trial on charges of obstructing justice and tampering with evidence.

"I guess some people think (the sentence) is fair, but I don't because he didn't do anything," Mrs. Baker said. "We'll just have to wait for the appeal."

Baker declined comment.

Former Blanchester Police Chief Richard Payton also was implicated in the crime and faces charges of obstructing justice and dereliction of duty.

Despite two trials, the location of Ms. Culberson's body is unknown.

Clinton County Prosecutor William Peelle said chances are slim the 22-year-old's remains will be found.

"At this point, to find Carrie's body would take a very fortuitous circumstance or a person to come forward with information about the location," he said.

Debra Culberson, Carrie's mother, still hopes that one day her daughter will have a proper burial.

But Tracey Baker's lawyer Scott J. Frederick, of Hamilton, said he doesn't expect his client to reveal the location.

"I honestly don't think (he) knows. If he did, I think he'd be smart enough to help himself," Mr. Frederick said. "Nine months in the Clinton County jail isn't worth protecting anybody, not even your brother. It's like hell over there."



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