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Sentencing Tuesday for Greenbank wife killer

Robert
Robert 'Al' Baker shows little emotion Monday after a jury in Island County Superior Court finds him guilty of murdering his wife, Kathie Baker.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

Jurors deliberated for just a few hours Monday before finding Robert "Al" Baker, 61, guilty of first-degree murder with aggravating factors.

Baker killed his wife, 53-year-old Kathie Baker, last June as she was sleeping in their bed. He dumped her tarp-wrapped body in the backyard of their Greenbank home.

Baker shrugged to his attorney before being led away by a guard. Kathie Baker's family members wept and hugged after he left the courtroom.

In an unusual move, Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock said he wants the sentencing to occur as soon as possible and set it for 9:30 Tuesday morning; many of Kathie Baker's family members traveled from other states to attend the trial.

Baker took the stand in his own defense Friday. His attorney, Tom Pacher of Coupeville, tried to punch holes in the prosecution's case and suggested that burglars may have killed Kathie Baker after her husband went to work.

"This case is crawling with reasonable doubt," he said. "There is simply not enough evidence in this case to convict him of anything."

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme, however, said that the overwhelming evidence showed that Baker killed his wife because his girlfriend was coming to Whidbey for a visit.

Baker told the woman that he was separated from his wife and bought plane tickets when he mistakenly thought she would be in Denver for a week.

"The web of deception he had woven came crashing down on him," Ohme said.

Baker faces a minimum sentence of about 20 years in prison, plus an automatic three years for a deadly weapon enhancement and an aggravating factor that allows the judge to deviate beyond the standard sentencing range, according to Ohme.

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