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Freeland murder suspect’s court appearance ends quickly

Robert “Al” Baker, 61, makes a brief appearance in Island County Superior Court Monday. His bail hearing and arraignment have been rescheduled. - Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times
Robert “Al” Baker, 61, makes a brief appearance in Island County Superior Court Monday. His bail hearing and arraignment have been rescheduled.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

A Freeland man accused of murdering his wife made a quick appearance in Island County Superior Court Monday.

Robert “Al” Baker, 61, was scheduled for arraignment and a bail hearing but the proceedings were cut short when Judge Alan Hancock agreed to a request for continuance.

Baker’s counsel, Coupeville attorney Craig Platt, asked to reschedule until next month. His request was in cooperation with Senior Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme of the Island County Prosecutor’s Office.

Hancock approved the request and both the arraignment and bail hearing were rescheduled for Aug. 13.

Baker is accused of slaying his wife, Kathie Baker, 53, early last month. Her body was found June 9 wrapped in a tarp in a ravine behind the couple’s Greenbank home. She had been hit in the head, possibly with a ball-peen hammer, and strangled with a ligature, according to court records.

She was last seen alive on June 2.

Along with owning the Harbor Pizzeria in Freeland, the couple also worked for Raytheon Corporation, a major defense contractor. Baker is a scientist and spent part of each year in Antarctica.

Kathie’s boss reported to police on June 7 that he couldn’t contact her and asked for a welfare check. Baker allegedly told Island County Sheriff’s deputies that she had flown to Denver, Colo., for her job.

Investigators later found that another woman, who had flown in from Alaska, had been staying at the house since June 3. According to a police report, she reported that Baker had said his marriage to Kathie was over and that he wanted a romantic relationship.

On a later visit, Baker reportedly allowed sheriff’s deputies to search the home. They found a small pool of blood on the master bedroom carpet and drag marks through the house.

Returning with a search warrant on June 9, police followed the drag marks to the ravine in the backyard where they discovered Kathie’s body. She was wrapped in a tarp, bound with rope and bungee cords, and had been dead for several days.

Baker was immediately arrested and on the following Monday, a judge set his bail at $5 million. He has also been formally charged with first-degree murder and domestic violence with a deadly weapon enhancement and aggravating circumstances.

Monday’s proceedings would have given Baker the chance to enter a “not guilty” or “guilty” plea and for Hancock to consider a motion to reduce his bail or allow him to be released on personal recognizance.

He remains in custody at the Island County Jail in Coupeville.

 

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