WACO, Texas (CBS/AP) More than three years after Matt Baker drugged his wife with sleeping pills and smothered her to death so he could be with his mistress, a Texas jury sentenced him to 65 years in prison.
(AP Photo/ Waco Tribune Herald)
Photo: Matt Baker after sentencing Jan. 21, 2010.
"You took her from us, Matt; you discarded her like she was yesterday's trash ... and you left so many other victims," the victim's mother, Linda Dulin, said during sentencing.
Kari Baker's death was originally deemed a suicide after a note and sleeping pills were found by her bed in 2006. Matt Baker said she was depressed over their 16-month-old daughter's cancer death in 1999.
Photo: Matt Baker and his Wife Kari Baker.
But authorities reopened the case several months later after her parents shared evidence obtained for their wrongful death lawsuit against Baker.
At the sentencing hearing when the judge asked Matt Baker if there was any legal reason why he should not be formally sentenced, he said "I truly believe in my innocence. I believe the jury made a mistake in this."
He can appeal but will have to find other attorneys. His defense lawyers, Guy James Gray and Harold Danford, were removed after sentencing, as they had requested.
Photo: Ex-mistress Vanessa Bulls testifies against Matt Baker Jan. 19, 2009 in Waco, Texas court.
Gray said after the trial that he felt "like an idiot" for initially believing Matt Baker's denial of an affair with mistress Vanessa Bulls. Matt Baker later admitted the affair and Bulls provided devastating testimony during the trial. Gray said that he did not allow Baker to testify because he "could not vouch for his credibility." Gray said Baker remained in denial about murdering Kari, and he represented his client as best he could.
"When you lose faith in your client, you lose heart," Gray said.
During sentencing, Kari's mother, Linda Dulin, told Matt Baker that the family had decided to forgive him for the sake of the two daughters he and his wife had together, but not before venting her rage.
"What you did was horrific," she said. "I believe you are capable of much more evil."
Matt Baker will be eligible for parole in 32 years.
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