Vague evidence complicates Zahra case

Feb. 23, 2011 at 2:42 PM
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CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The murder case against Elisa Baker may be weakened by murky evidence, a prosecutor not involved in the case says.

Baker was indicted in Catawba County, N.C., Monday in the death of her 10-year-old stepdaughter, Zahra. She says her husband, Adam Baker, dismembered the girl's body after she found her dead from illness.

The state medical examiner said Monday Zahra's autopsy concluded she died of "undetermined homicidal violence." The office would not elaborate.

"I've never heard that term before," Steve Ward, a longtime Mecklenburg County prosecutor, told The Charlotte Observer. "It means the medical examiner is saying the victim was killed, but they have no idea how it happened. … It'll be interesting to see how they prove it was a purposeful killing rather than a death by natural causes followed by dismemberment."

Baker is to appear in court Friday.

The autopsy report describes Zahra's medical history, including her cancer fight, but said recent records did not show serious problems.

Catawba County District Attorney James Gaither Jr. says there is no credible evidence that anyone besides Elisa Baker was involved in the killing.

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