Elisa Baker could be out of jail by Spring

Elisa Baker during a court appearance.
Elisa Baker during a court appearance.
Zahra Baker. (Source: Townsville Bulletin)
Zahra Baker. (Source: Townsville Bulletin)

By Steve Ohnesorge - bio l email

NEWTON, NC (WBTV) – The stepmother of Zahra Baker remains behind jail in Catawba County, but that could change this spring if no new charges are filed against her.

Baker was arrested on October 10 and faces various traffic and other misdemeanor charges that usually do not result in active jail time.

Full Coverage: Follow the entire Zahra Baker case

She does face felony charges of Bigamy and Obstruction of Justice for writing a fake ransom note but it is rare for someone to serve jail time for Bigamy. As for Obstruction of Justice, the presumptive sentence, according to court papers, would be in the 6 to 8 month range, if she is convicted.

By the time her next court date arrives in April, Baker will have already spent six months behind bars awaiting trial.

"She will already have maxed out her sentence on the Obstruction charge even before she's tried for it," said her defense attorney Scott Reilly on Wednesday. "You can't keep someone in jail for more than the maximum sentence she would get even if she were found guilty."

Reilly said if no new charges are filed against her between now and April, he will ask a judge to change Baker's secured bond of $107,000 to an unsecured bond. That would mean Baker would not have to remain in jail while awaiting trial but the charges would still stand until disposed of by the courts.

That could change, though, if more serious charges are filed against Baker. That could keep her in jail with a higher bond, depending on what the charges are.

The District Attorney's office is going through thousands of pages of investigative reports on the Zahra Baker case and officials said earlier this week that more charges will be filed if the evidence warrants it.

District Attorney James C. Gaither has said all along during the investigation that he would not rush into any charges. So far, no one has been charged in the death of the ten year old girl.

Elisa Baker led authorities to Zahra's dismembered remains in Caldwell County though she has denied killing her.

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