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Former Baptist Pastor Matt Baker Convicted In Murder of Wife

Wearing a multi-colored tie emblazoned with the word “FAITH” and a Icthus (fish), former Baptist minister Matt Baker was convicted of murdering his wife, Kari Baker, by a jury in Waco, Texas just a few minutes ago.

Baker’s conviction undoubtedly rested primarily on the testimony of his parishioner and former mistress Vanessa Bulls.  Here’s some background information from ABP:

WACO, Texas (ABP) — The star witness at the trial of a former Baptist pastor charged with murdering his wife in 2006 testified Jan. 19 that the accused planned the crime, hoping to make it look like a suicide, and afterward told his ex-mistress that he drugged his wife with sleeping pills and smothered her with a pillow.

Vanessa Bulls was the 27th witness to testify against Matt Baker. The graduate of Baylor University and George W. Truett Theological Seminary was pastor of several Baptist churches in Texas before his arrest in September 2007, 18 months after the death of his wife, Kari.

The prosecution rested its case at the end of the day Jan. 19. The defense began calling witnesses the morning of Jan. 20. Baker has denied killing his wife in several high-profile media interviews, including CBS News “48 Hours” and the March 2008 cover story of Texas Monthly.

And more background from the Waco Trib:

As Baptist minister Matt Baker was plotting the death of his wife in 2006, according to his mistress, Vanessa Bulls, he sent her the lyrics to a song called “Dirty Little Secret.”

Bulls kept her and Baker’s alleged secret until Wednesday, when the Harker Heights middle school teacher testified in gripping detail about her four-month affair with Baker and how she said he drugged and smothered Kari Baker as their two children slept down the hall.

Bulls, 27, told the jury that Matt Baker spoke harshly of his wife and their life together and considered several methods of killing her.

His options included tampering with the brakes on her car, a drive-by shooting, and hanging her and making it look like a suicide, she said.

“He said he wanted her out of his life,” Bulls said, adding that Baker said he could not divorce because it would kill his career.

It was also reported by the Waco Trib that Vanessa Bulls has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending “the outcome of an investigation” from her position as a seventh-grade language arts teacher  at Easter Hills Middle School in Harker Heights, Texas.  Bulls continued her affair with Baker for several months after the murder.  Legal scholars have said that Bulls could face criminal prosecution in light of her testimony.  See below:

Vanessa Bulls may have opened herself up to potential criminal prosecution by testifying that she repeatedly lied to law enforcement officials looking into the death of Kari Baker. But she likely isn’t on the hook for as much as people might imagine, legal scholars said.

Bulls was granted immunity for testimony she gave to a grand jury last March. There is no indication, though, she received immunity for testimony she offered Tuesday during Matt Baker’s murder trial.

If Bulls does not have an agreement that shields her from criminal liability arising from her testimony, prosecutors could pursue charges against her.

See also:

Jury deliberating in ex-minister’s murder trial (Washington Post)
Deliberations Begin in ‘Murdering Minister’ Case (ABC News)

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Discussion

  1. Bart Barber says:

    I have that tie. I think I’m getting rid of it. Ugh.

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