Zahra Baker's stepmother told law enforcement that the 10-year-old child was dismembered and spread across Caldwell County. Now, after leading police to critical evidence, she is hoping her cooperation will sway court officials toward reducing her bond.
According to court documents filed in Catawba County on Monday, attorneys for Elisa Baker say "circumstances have materially changed" since Judge Robert Mullinax Jr. increased her bond from $40,000 to $65,000. Held on a felony obstruction of justice charge, Elisa Baker disclosed information about circumstances surrounding 10-year old Zahra's disappearance, according to her attorneys.
On the night of Oct. 22, Elisa Baker’s defense team confirmed information their client provided and the next morning contacted Catawba County District Attorney Jay Gaither’s office to indicate “Ms. Baker’s desire to cooperate in the investigation.”
A day later, the district attorney’s office contacted Baker’s defense team and she began to provide information through attorneys and an investigator, according to court documents.
“Law Enforcement was informed that Zahra Baker was deceased, and that her body had been dismembered, and that it would be recovered at different sites,” Monday’s filed motion reported, adding two specific locations were provided to investigators.
On Oct. 25, Elisa Baker accompanied law enforcement to three Caldwell County sites.
“At each of these sites, the defendant described what should be found there, and specifically directed law enforcement to the area to be searched,” according to the court files.
That information, according to Elisa Baker’s attorneys, led police to a Christie Road location where part of Zahra’s prosthetic leg was recovered. Two other sites were identified, including the Christie Road location where bone matching Zahra Baker’s DNA was discovered. She also directed police toward a Dudley Shoals site where investigators found remains that Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins described as “consistent with a child.”
Elisa Baker provided additional help in locating and identifying evidence.
“The only credible evidence released to the public by law enforcement related to this case is evidence that was collected after Elisa Baker told law enforcement where to look and what to look for,” according to court documents. “Law enforcement has been able to locate evidence at landfills, the Baker home and locations throughout Caldwell County and Catawba County because of Elisa Baker’s cooperation and disclosures.”
Elisa Baker’s defense team, including Lisa Dubs and Scott Reilly, provide other arguments for the reduction of her bond. Among these, documents report she is a life-long resident of the region, apart from when she moved to Australia to marry her husband, Adam.
That marriage is also among her attorneys’ arguments. She also has three children and grandchildren in the surrounding area. She obtained a GED through Caldwell Community College, and has worked in textiles, but has applied for disability.
“Due to the overwhelming and international publicity this case has received, Ms. Baker is instantly recognizable, and it would be difficult for her to avoid detection if she should attempt to leave the jurisdiction,” court documents report.
Attorneys asked Mullinax to reduce Elisa Baker’s bond to an amount “consistent with the recommended guidelines for criminal cases in Catawba County. The motion also asks for any other relief that “the court deems just and proper.”
Mullinax previously denied a request to reduce that bond. He said Elisa Baker was a "flight risk" and increased her bond.
It could take about five days to schedule a bond reduction hearing with the District Attorney's Office, and the county's DA has previously stated that this case is being expedited.