Zahra Baker stepmother wants trial moved

July 13, 2011 at 1:48 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 13 (UPI) -- Elisa Baker, accused of killing her 10-year-old stepdaughter Zahra, has requested her trial be moved from North Carolina's Catawba County because of publicity.

Defense attorney Scott Reilly argued Baker can't get a fair and impartial trial in the county, the Charlotte Observer reported.

"The indictment ... involves one of the most highly publicized crimes ever in Catawba County," Reilly wrote in a motion filed Tuesday. "The pretrial publicity in this case has been such that the entire county is 'infected' with prejudice."

Baker, 42, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Zahra, whose body was dismembered last fall and scattered at different locations.

While admitting she and her husband Adam Baker disposed of the body parts, Baker has denied any wrongdoing and has accused her husband of dismembering his daughter's body.

The North Carolina Medical Examiner's Office has said Zahra died as a result of "undetermined homicidal violence."

Adam Baker has not been charged in connection with Zahra's death.

Reilly, in his change-of-venue motion, said the publicity surrounding Zahra's death and his client's murder charge was "excessive," "highly prejudicial" and "overwhelming."

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