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More questions in Zahra's case

January 3, 2011

Nine residents were selected Monday who could potentially determine the outcome of an investigation into the death and disappearance of Zahra Baker.

Superior Court Judge Robert C. Ervin presided over the selection Monday of new members of the Catawba County Grand Jury. It's these people who determine if there's reasonable cause to charge someone in connection with Zahra's death.

The jury meets the first and third Monday every month and hears evidence submitted by law enforcement in criminal cases. Hickory Police Department submitted its prosecution summary in Zahra's case last month to the District Attorney's Office.

There is no word yet, however, on if the grand jury members decided to indict anyone involved in the case.

The Catawba County Clerk of Court's Office said the results of the indictments are sealed because Elisa Baker's cases were continued.

Jay Gaither, 25th prosecutorial district attorney, said Monday he didn't know of any indictments in the investigation.

A grand jury indictment could be the first in a list of new developments in Zahra's investigation.

Ervin said Monday that Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday for felony obstruction of justice, after she allegedly wrote a bogus ransom note Oct. 9 to throw investigators off the trail during their investigation in Zahra's disappearance.

Elisa Baker's attorney in the case is Scott Reilly.

A bond reduction hearing for Elisa Baker is also set for Tuesday. Elisa Baker requested the bond reduction because she claims she led investigators to Zahra's remains, which were scattered in various locations throughout Catawba and Caldwell counties.

Elisa Baker was arrested by Hickory Police on outstanding charges one day after Zahra was reported missing in October. The charges are unrelated to the child's disappearance and include traffic violations and worthless check charges.

Elisa Baker was later charged with felony obstruction of justice, and she has remained in Catawba County jail since her arrest in October. Her bond is set at $97,200.

A judge is also set to consider a motion in Catawba County Superior Court on Wednesday about whether to unseal additional warrants relating to the police investigation into Zahra's disappearance and death.

Ervin said he received word Monday from C. Amanda Martin, who is an attorney representing several area media outlets, about scheduling a hearing to unseal the warrants. The hearing is set for Wednesday.

Martin filed several motions at the clerk's office to request the unsealing of more than 20 warrants related to the investigation. In the motions, Martin claimed the warrants should be unsealed because the state failed to properly document orders sealing the warrants from the public.

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