Matt Baker: The Married Baptist Minister, The Choir Girl And Murder
PUT together a former Baptist Minsiter, a Matt Baker, the word Waco, a wife called Kari and the choir director’s daughter and you have a tabloid tale of lust. Add a murder and you have a tabloid tale to shock and grab headlines.
Anorak’s Man in LA brings you the story in full:
A CLASSIC tabloid love triangle murder trial played out in a courtroom in a classic tabloid town: in Waco, Texas, a preacher was on trial for murdering his wife because he was having an affair with the choir director’s daughter.
Former Baptist minister Matt Baker was charged with killing his wife Kari in 2006 during what he he’d told her was going to be a romantic and frisky evening. He allegedly gave her some “sexual enhancement pills” that were actually capsules filled with Ambien, handcuffed the drugged the woman her to the bed on the pretense of “spicing things up,” and then smothered her with a pillow until she was lifeless and dead.
The Other Woman was on the witness stand. Twenty-seven year-old Vanessa Bulls said she started seeing the 38-year-old preacher about two months before the death of his wife. She denied any involvement in the killing, but said Baker had talked about offing the missus and making it look like a suicide. Bulls said she never went to police because she was afraid of exposing the affair, afraid of getting in trouble and afraid of him.
She continued dating Baker for several months afterwards, and testified that when she broke up with Baker and urged him to turn himself in, “He became irate… He said, ‘I killed my wife for you and now you’re leaving?‘”
Vanessa Bulls testified with immunity.
The death was originally ruled a suicide. Baker’s attorney says it only became a murder when prosecutors learned of the love affair.
The local press got on board, dubbing the 38-year-old Baker “the murdering minister”.
Vanessa Bulls claimed Baker had talked about killing his wife and making it appear to a suicide (suicide was the original police finding). Bulls denied having anything to do with the plot. Nevertheless, after the stepped down from the witness stand, she was suspended from her teaching job.
The trial lasted six days. Prosecutors called 28 witnesses. The defense called one, an expert who discussed DNA evidence. Matt Baker gave several high-profile media interviews before the trial to proclaim his innocence but did not testify in his own defense. The jury deliberated around seven hours. The penalty phase of the trial is underway right now. Already, several women have testified about aggressive sexual encounters with the convicted man who faces life behind bars.
The final scene in a quintessential tabloid murder story was played out when Matt Baker, the Baptist preacher from Waco, Texas, was sentenced to 65 years in prison for murder.
The jury returned the sentence after deliberating about two hours after an eight day trial. The guilty verdict took them about seven hours. Baker is 37. He must serve thirty years before he’s considered for parole.