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Elisa Baker hearing postponed

June 28, 2011

Elisa Baker did not appear in court Tuesday because the judge presiding over her court cases was out of town.

A pre-trial hearing for Baker was postponed until July 14 on Tuesday after Superior Court Judge Timothy Kincaid filed an order last week that will make him the sole judge ruling over her cases. Kincaid was outside Catawba County on Tuesday in Gastonia, said Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson.

Baker, 43, was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for multiple charges that included second-degree murder in the death of her 10-year-old stepdaughter Zahra Baker. Baker is also being charged with bigamy, obstruction of justice and two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.

Kincaid, the senior resident superior court judge for district 25B, submitted an order to be the sole judge over Baker’s cases last week because of the situation’s “unique characteristics” and “national attention.”

“The assignment of one judge to hear all matters concerning these cases would promote consistency and judicial efficiency,” according to the order that was approved by the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.

Though Kincaid will oversee Baker’s cases in Catawba County, the order does not apply to Caldwell County, where she is charged with felony identity theft and felony obtaining property by false pretenses.

The postponement of Baker’s hearing also comes after the lead prosecutor in the Zahra Baker case was placed on administrative leave after he was arrested and charged with driving while impaired June 21.

Catawba County's assistant district attorney Eric Robert Bellas, 45, of Morganton, was allegedly riding a bicycle on Clubhouse Road at Sunset Beach at about midnight June 20 when he apparently flipped over a guardrail and fell off the bicycle, according to Sunset Beach Police reports and reliable O-N-E sources.

Baker’s next court appearance was postponed to 9:30 a.m. July 14 at the Catawba County Justice Center.

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