Photo: Vanessa Bulls testifies in Waco, Texas court Jan. 19, 2010.
Bulls is the star witness at the murder trial of her former lover, Matt Baker, the Texas preacher who prosecutors say drugged his wife, handcuffed her to the bed under the guise of spicing up their marriage, then smothered her with a pillow until she died in 2006.
Baker has always claimed his wife, Kari Baker, committed suicide because she was despondent over the death of a daughter seven years earlier. In court, however, Vanessa Bulls testified that Matt Baker planned his wife's murder and ruthlessly followed through.
Photo: Matt and Kari Baker.
Bulls began her testimony describing how she first met Matt Baker, who was applying for a job as preacher at the church she attended, in the fall of 2005. Bulls, who had a toddler and was getting a divorce at the time, said Baker seduced her under the guise of counseling her.
She said that in March of the following year, she began a sexual affair with Baker and soon after, he began planning his wife's murder. Baker considered tampering with the brakes on his wife's car or orchestrating a drive-by shooting, Ms. Bulls said, but eventually decided to kill his wife in a manner that would appear to be a suicide.
As Kari's family cried quietly in the courtroom, Bulls gave details she said Baker relayed to her one week after Kari's death. He told her, she says, that he bought chloroform online and attempted to purchase a powerful sleep medication known as Ambien. On the night of her death, Baker convinced his wife to take a pill that he said would enhance her sexual experience, but was, in fact, Bulls said, a capsule filled with a sleeping medication.
Baker told her that he handcuffed his wife to the bed until she fell asleep and then put a pillow over her face to suffocate her. Bulls told the court that after Baker thought his wife was dead, she moved and gasped for breath. Baker panicked, said Bulls, and again put the pillow over his wife's face until he was sure she was dead.
Vanessa Bulls knew Baker planned to kill his wife, she said, but never told anyone. She also said she lied to investigators for months, denying that she had an affair with Baker or that she knew anything about Kari Baker's death. She said she was afraid of Baker, especially after he emailed her lyrics to a song called "Dirty Little Secret." Bulls read to the jury the lyrics of the song's chorus: "I'll keep you, my dirty little secret. Don't tell anyone or you will just be another regret."
Under cross examination, Bulls admitted she had made various and contradicting statements to authorities.
Later in the afternoon, the prosecution rested. The defense case will begin Wednesday morning.
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January 20, 2010 - Matt Baker Trial: Ex Mistress Vanessa Bulls Says Preacher Killed Wife
January 19, 2010 - Erin Moriarty: Matt Baker Lied to Me, But Did the Texas Preacher Kill His Wife?
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Erin Moriarty is an attorney and an award-winning correspondent for CBS News. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine High School shootings and the 9/11 investigation overseas. Moriarty has won nine national Emmy Awards and a 2001 Press Club Award, among others. She is currently covering the Matt Baker murder trial in Waco, Texas for 48 Hours | Mystery, where she has been a correspondent since 1990.