Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Adam Baker somber in court appearance on felonies (Hickory Daily Record)

Adam Baker somber in court appearance on felonies
Possibility of him leaving the country prompted police to act

By Sarah Newell Williamson
Published: April 13, 2011


Adam Baker showed little emotion as he walked into court Wednesday morning.

As Baker walked into the courtroom in lime green scrubs, chains clanking around his ankles and wrists, he surveyed the courtroom and sighed. He sat into the jury box and waited for the judge to call his name on the docket. He did not look at his mother, Karen, who was sitting in the last row of the gallery with a friend.

Mullinax read the two new charges Baker is facing: one count of felony identity theft and one count of felony obtaining property by false pretense.

“The maximum possible punishment is 30 months,” District Court Judge Robert Mullinax told Baker.

The charges stem from Baker getting power at his Hickory home on 21st Avenue, NW, from Duke Energy in James Starbuck’s name. Baker and his family moved into the house in July.

Baker asked for a court appointed attorney. Mark Killian is currently representing him on worthless check charges in Catawba County, and was assigned to represent him on these charges, as well.

“We got the court order in January (on the charges),” said Maj. Clyde Deal with the Hickory Police Department. “There’s a lot more to this than people think.”

Baker was placed under an immigration detainer by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the jail Tuesday evening.

Deal said investigators have known for a few months Baker was in the country illegally and intended to bring illegal immigration charges to a Catawba County grand jury, with the hopes it would indict Baker.

“Our intent to start with was to indict,” Deal said. “We didn’t know if he was going to be here to indict. “We served the warrants to ensure he would be here when the indictments were served. If he’s out of the country, it doesn’t make sense.”

Baker had hoped to return to his native country of Australia. His Caldwell County attorney had said as recently as Monday that Baker had hoped to return to his homeland soon.

Deal said that when someone is in the country illegally, “it’s usually standard protocol, when you have someone charged with crimes that can’t be paid off, like a traffic ticket,” to place them on an immigration detainer.

“A (detainer) says when court finishes with you and serves whatever punishment you get, you’re to be deported,” Deal said.

Baker is the father of 10-year-old Zahra Baker. Zahra was first reported missing Oct. 9. Hickory police declared it a homicide investigation within days, and discovered the cancer survivor’s prosthetic leg off Christie Road in Caldwell County later that month. Their investigation later found most of her remains close by. Investigators believe Zahra likely died Sept. 24 and her body disposed of the following day.

Baker’s wife and Zahra’s stepmother, Elisa, has been charged with second-degree murder in Zahra’s death, as well as obstruction of justice. Baker has not been charged in Zahra’s death.

Adam Baker was first arrested Oct. 25 on outstanding misdemeanor charges from Caldwell County. While in jail, he was served with Catawba County’s outstanding warrants for five worthless checks. He bonded out of jail Oct. 27.

Baker remains in jail on a $10,000 secured bond. His next court date is May 4.

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