RALEIGH, N.C., May 9 (UPI) -- The North Carolina woman who entered a guilty plea to killing her 10-year-old stepdaughter now says the girl died from illness.
In a prison interview broadcast Wednesday, Elisa Baker told WSOC-TV, Charlotte, Adam Baker was the one who insisted on keeping Zahra's death a secret and disposing of the body by dismembering it. Adam Baker moved to Hickory, N.C., from Australia with his daughter after meeting Elisa online.
Elisa Baker is now serving at least 25 years at the Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh. She denied being a killer.
"I plead guilty to something I did not even do and it wasn't even a murder," she said.
In her version, Zahra stopped breathing after developing a stomach infection. She said she wanted to call 911 but her husband stopped her, and she thought he might be following some Australian cultural precept.
"I thought it was maybe a strange ritual that he done. For all I know the Aborigines ... I don't know. I regret not telling sooner. I regret not calling 911. But people do make mistakes," she said.
Adam Baker, who was deported, was never charged although the initial investigation into his daughter's disappearance focused on him. Investigators later decided the evidence pointed to Elisa as the person who dumped parts of Zahra's body around Caldwell County.
Elisa Baker insisted she had no reason to kill Zahra, who was disabled.
"Zahra was a blessing. She brought a lot into my life," she said.