Zahra Baker's stepmother nearly faints in court

Zahra Baker's stepmother nearly faints in court

Elisa Baker, shown at an October 2010 court appearance.

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by Franco Ordoñez / Charlotte Observer

Franco Ordoñez / Charlotte Observer

Posted on April 4, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 4 at 4:53 PM

NEWTON, N.C. -- Elisa Baker nearly fainted in court Monday, as prosecutors tried to schedule her for trial on charges that she obstructed justice by writing a phony ransom note to throw off investigators looking into the disappearance of Baker's stepdaughter, Zahra.

Baker's attorney poured her a cup of water and court bailiffs helped her to a seat. It was unclear what the problem was.

When the hearing resumed, Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson denied the Catawba prosecutor’s attempt to set her obstruction trial for May.

Instead, the delayed hearings on both the obstruction and second-degree murder charges against Baker until June 27.

Elisa Baker is charged in the death of Zahra, the 10-year-old Hickory girl whose story and photos captured hearts and whose body was found dismembered in Caldwell County.

Elisa Baker’s attorney, Scott Reilly, told the judge he planned to seek a change of venue for the trial. He said he didn't think his client could get a fair trial in Catawba County because of intensive publicity surrounding the case.

District Attorney Jay Gaither said it was up to the judge to decide whether a change of venue was appropriate, but said he believed the people of Catawba County could put aside any preconceived notions and give her a fair hearing.

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