Judge orders warrants open
A Superior Court judge mandated Tuesday that 11 search warrants relating to the Zahra Baker case be unsealed.
The warrants were previously sealed to the public and media outlets, claiming that, "the release of the information contained in the search warrant would jeopardize the right of the state to prosecute a defendant or defendants, or jeopardize the right of a defendant or defendants to receive a fair trial or undermine an ongoing or future investigation."
Judge Nathaniel J. Poovey ordered the search warrants unsealed Tuesday after the state declined a hearing Monday to extend the seal, which remains in effect for a maximum of 30 days, according to a court document.
The 11 warrants in the investigation of Zahra's disappearance are dated from Oct. 11-29 and contain mandates that the information included in the warrants, "be sealed and not released to the public until further order of the court."
The state didn't immediately file a motion for extension of the documents' seal. However, on Nov. 29 when media outlets requested copies of the warrants, which were more than 30 days old, the state filed a motion to extend the sealing orders.
According to the document ordering the warrants' unsealing, the state told the court it wouldn't be prepared to give its case until the week of Dec. 13.
District Attorney Jay Gaither didn't respond to requests from The O-N-E seeking comment.
The court will hear the state's motion Dec. 13 to extend sealing orders on search warrants entered on Oct. 27 and Oct. 29.
The search warrants unsealed Tuesday reveal information about where investigators sought evidence in Zahra's disappearance.
The warrants are issued for the Baker residence, located at 21 21st Ave. NW in Hickory; an America Online e-mail account belonging to Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker; Elisa Baker's Facebook account under the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org; and Elisa Baker's MySpace account under the username GothicFairy6668.
The warrants allow evidence to be seized from Elisa Baker's social networking sites and e-mail address, including all stored user files not limited to photographs, blogs, inbox messages, sent e-mail mail and online trash folders.
The warrants also detail requests for phone numbers and other information from a cell phone that belonged to Zahra's father, Adam Baker.
Zahra was reported missing Oct. 9 by Adam Baker. Since the child's disappearance, rumors circulated about Adam and Elisa Baker's involvement in the child's death.
Hickory Police announced Nov. 12 that they recovered enough physical evidence in Caldwell County to think they located Zahra's body.
Information released in the search warrants, which claim Elisa Baker provided detailed information about where Zahra's remains were located, give further credence to the rumors Elisa Baker was involved in the child's murder or an attempt to dispose of her body.