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Elisa's cases continued

March 8, 2011

Court dates are piling up for Elisa Baker, whose felony charges were continued Tuesday in superior court.

Baker, who is charged in the death of her 10-year-old stepdaughter Zahra, was scheduled to appear in court for bigamy and obstruction of justice charges that surfaced after the investigation in Zahra's murder.

Those cases were continued, adding more dates on the court docket for Baker and her court-appointed attorney Scott Reilly. Baker is confined in Catawba County jail under a $307,700 bond, and she didn't appear in court Tuesday.

Catawba County Superior Court Judge Richard Boner allowed Baker's obstruction of justice case to be continued until April 4. Baker's bigamy charge was added to the court's June administrative docket.

Baker was indicted on both charges since the investigation into Zahra's disappearance and death started Oct. 9. A Catawba County Grand Jury indicted Baker for obstruction of justice after she allegedly wrote a bogus ransom note to hinder the police investigation into Zahra's disappearance.

Baker was indicted in January on a bigamy charge, which claims she was married to Aaron Young when she wed Zahra's father, Adam Baker, in 2008.

A Caldwell County Grand Jury handed down another indictment Feb. 28 against Baker, claiming she used her daughter's name to obtain power and electricity service in Catawba County.

While court proceedings continue for Baker, area organizations founded in Zahra's honor continue with their goals to raise awareness about the life and death of the two-time cancer survivor.

Kristie Austin Pope's The Zahra Project was started to create change in departments of social services across the country. Pope's group started as a Facebook page and grew into Zahra's Bill.

"We have some people (in the group) who really do want to make a difference," Pope said.

Zahra's bill aims to increase the maximum sentence for felony child abuse, to take action against those who don't report child abuse and to require DSS to report to police any assault charges involving children under 18 years old.

Pope said she was disappointed to learn Caldwell and Catawba counties' DSS workers visited Zahra's residences several times when the child was alive and determined there was no evidence of maltreatment.

"I found that to be pretty sad," Pope said.

Jim Julian, of Stanfield, created the Zahra Clare Baker Memorial Foundation to help children who, like Zahra, lived with physical disabilities and challenges.

Since the group's creation, Julian worked to establish the group as a nonprofit organization and create the website www.friendsofzahrabaker.com. The website is enabled to take donations for anyone wishing to contribute to Zahra's cause.

Julian said he wants to focus on purchasing hearing aids for children.

The group's Facebook page now has almost 300 "likes" and continues to add more fans. Comments left on the Facebook page focus on remembering Zahra, not about Elisa Baker or the charges brought against her.

"We're not concentrating on that," Julian said. "We just want to stay glued to our goals."

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