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Trial to be moved in Zahra Baker case

Aug. 2, 2011 at 3:06 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Elisa Baker's North Carolina trial will be moved because of excessive publicity surrounding the death of her 10-year-old stepdaughter Zahra, a judge has ruled.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Kincaid granted a change of venue after Baker's defense attorney argued it would be impossible for her to get a fair trial on second-degree murder charges from Catawba County jurors, The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday.

"You would have to live under a rock in Catawba County not to have been exposed to all of the rumors, the false reports, the hearsay evidence, the anger people have concerning this case," defense attorney Scott Reilly said. "The anger people have against Elisa Baker because of the highly prejudicial nature of the coverage."

Baker, 43, is charged with second-degree murder and obstruction of justice. She and her husband Adam Baker reported Zahra missing Oct. 9, setting off a massive search that ended when her body was found dismembered and discarded throughout adjacent Caldwell County.

Kincaid said he would rule on a new location for the trial at a hearing Sept. 12.

Catawba County District Attorney James Gaither Jr. said he wasn't opposed to the venue change but said he believed a fair and impartial jury could have been found in Catawba County.

"I trust the jury system, and I trust the system wherever we go," he said.

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