WACO, Texas – A former pastor was indicted on a murder charge in his wife's 2006 death, which initially was ruled a suicide before her parents pressed authorities to reopen the case.
Matt Baker, 37, remained jailed on $500,000 bond Thursday, a day after a grand jury handed up the indictment that alleges he killed his 31-year-old wife, Kari, by giving her drugs and suffocating her with a pillow.
Baker, a former Baptist minister at several central Texas churches, denies the charge. He has said his wife, a schoolteacher, used sleeping pills to end her life because she was despondent over the 1998 death of a daughter from cancer. He also denies allegations he was having an affair at the time his wife died.
His attorney, Richard Ellison, told the Waco Tribune-Herald that he and his client were "shocked and disappointed" at the indictment, which he said was "all caused by family pressure."
Kari Baker's parents, Linda and James Dulin, never believed Baker's account of how their daughter died at the couple's home in Hewitt, a Waco suburb. Baker now lives in Kerrville with the couple's two daughters.
As her parents pushed for further investigation, the justice of the peace who had initially ruled Kari Baker's death a suicide ordered the body exhumed. The death certificate eventually was amended to list the cause as undetermined.
The parents pursued a wrongful-death lawsuit against Baker, still pending, and hired experts who uncovered evidence that they shared with authorities.
Linda Dulin told the newspaper that the indictment brought her one step closer to fulfilling a vow she made after her daughter died.
"I knew this day was coming," she said. "I knew it was. Now, I want Matt to pay for murdering my daughter, and I want to rescue my granddaughters."
Baker was arrested in late 2007, but McLennan County District Attorney John Segrest said in March 2008 that there was not enough evidence at the time to seek an indictment. The investigation continued.
Officials have said Matt Baker researched sleeping pills on Web sites, and that his wife told at least two people she thought her husband was having an affair, had found crushed pills in his briefcase and feared for her life.
Kari Baker's family and friends say that far from being depressed, she was looking forward to starting a new job.