By Meladi Brewer
DARKE COUNTY — Baker pleaded in his own defense in court Thursday. Judge Douglas M. Rastatter presided.
Baker testified that when Corey Fleming, the victim, came to stay with him and his family, both he and his wife had stressed the importance of keeping drugs aways from the house. He said it was infuriating and upsetting that he found Fleming smoking meth in his garage. He testified that he yelled at the victim to leave, but never got physical.
“He gathers his belongings. He doesn’t say a whole lot. He damn near teared up on me and went on his way,” Baker testified.
After yelling at Fleming to get out and go to rehab, Baker went back into the house -alone. He said he was mad and angry, as the victim disrespected him after all Baker did, but Baker went to bed shortly after the incident to awake later with a “real bad gut feeling.”
“I heard something. I wake up suddenly. I have a real bad gut feeling. I sit up, grab my pistol from beside me, and load one into the chamber, and make my way into the kitchen,” Baker said.
He had previously testified that he left his house unlocked for Fleming to freely enter the house from the garage. Stating Greenville is a safe place, Baker said they never worried about it. Baker also told State Prosecutor Deborah Quigley he had the four guns police found for home protection. Knowing something was wrong, Baker nervously proceeded into the kitchen.
“I proceeded into the kitchen, and a voice from the darkness said ‘I’m going to take everything you have,’” Baker said.
He testified he turned and saw Fleming holding a gun in his face.
“After, he looked into the living room, and as he did, I raised the gun in my hand and fired,” Baker said.
Baker said that when he fired, the victim just dropped to the floor, and during the incident, there were two school age children present, asleep in their rooms. Baker testified he checked on the children post mortem, and they were fine.
He went into detail during his testimony of how he did not call the police but got to work saran wrapping the body to limit the amount of blood and defecation that happened before bringing him outside to clean up the mess in the kitchen.
“Your best friend, you’re only male friend, your little brother, and that’s what you do instead of calling the police,” Quigley said.
He told defense attorney Patrick Mulligan that the incident terrified him, as “he never thought he’d have to do that.”
“I did not know what to do. My mind was not there, it was shot,” Baker said.
Baker told Quigley he cleaned up a lot of blood with paper towels and water. Moving forward, Baker relays what happened when Sgt. Joseph Monnin conducted a search warrant at 11 p.m. Baker had been sleeping on a hot day, so he was in his underpants when he was placed on the porch with his family. He said it caused an emotional toll on him because his neighbors were close and could see him.
Baker testified that if any commotion went on with him or his neighbors, you could hear it. He even told Mulligan he could “hear his neighbors talking.” As the investigation continued over numerous days, officers eventually arrested Baker for the murder of Fleming. During his time in jail, Baker wrote letters of different scenarios of the event to friends and family – trying to sway the attention off of himself.
“The point of that was to make everyone aware that I am not a murderer. That had been told to them. I am not a murderer,” Baker said.
Baker has admitted guilt to tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse -willingly during his testimony. He is pleading not guilty via self-defense. In order to have a self-defense case, the state has to prove, without a doubt, that the case was not self-defense. The defense does not have to prove it was self-defense.
“No murder case because I was in great danger that night,” Baker said. “He came at me, and I stopped him.”
In the note Baker wrote his female friend he claimed to “sacrifice his best male friend to Lucifer,” and had testified in the initial investigation that he did not write the note as it had been forged. He told Sgt. Monnin the writing did not match, but in the courtroom Thursday, he admitted to writing the note.
Quigley asked Baker if the note sounded like self-defense to which he stated a simple “no.” Quigley continued to say the friend advised that Baker told her that he killed an individual, he was in the kitchen, and he had a gun that was empty.
“That’s not what I told her. Did you hear me tell her that?” Baker said.
Quigley then read excerpts from the letters allowed to the court where Baker continuously tried to pin the murder on someone else. He gave details of the actual murder, possible motives, and the probability someone could have actually committed the crime – all while in jail. Baker had been arrested at the end of August, and the letters were written between September and October.
Letter confession, Baker wrote his girlfriend explaining the note he had given his friend saying “Why would anyone write they killed another unless they crazy, literally.” She continued to read on where Baker told his girlfriend that he did not think the victim suffered.
Baker told Quigley he was trying to conceal that he was involved, and she continued reading, “I’ve (Baker) been worried about that part since I found out.” Quigley told Baker that was a lie, as he had already confessed to murder. Baker replied with “correct.”
There were a handful of letters where Baker was trying to frame other people for the murder.
“Everybody’s equal. There’s nobody in particular that I try to frame,” Baker said. “It’s diverted attention. It’s all I keep explaining.”
Baker had stated on numerous occasions that lying upsets him and is disrespectful. It makes him angry. Quigley questioned Baker about his philosophy of lying as he said “it is the worst thing someone can do to him”.
“But you lie, correct?” Quigley asked.
“Correct,” Baker said.
In a letter, Baker wrote to his wife that “I also need you to understand that everything I do or say, lying, which I hate. I do to benefit or benifit from the situation to fix, repair, a damning situation or reputation, and not ever make you or whoever look bad or worse. I guess its how I look after myself -greed.”
After reading parts of the letters Baker had sent to friends and family, he testified on the stand that these exhibits being shown were “tampered evidence.” He interrupted Quigley’s reading of the letters to tell her nothing she was saying was accurate.
“This is my tampered evidence. It’s been taken out of proportion. Proceed,” Baker said.
Baker said the night of the murder was a nightmare. He said he replays the events of shooting the victim, quickly moving him outside, and burying him.
“I still live it. It’s not a good feeling,” Baker said.
Closing statements from the State and defense were heard Friday morning.