WACO, Texas (AP) — In the month before his wife died, a minister in Texas tried to buy a prescription sleeping aid online and conducted an Internet search for “overdose on sleeping pills,” computer experts testified Thursday in his murder trial.
Neal Kersh, a computer forensics examiner, testified that he examined data from Matt Baker’s church-owned laptop and was able to retrieve information from a computer server at a youth center where Baker worked. Baker’s computer went missing two months after Kari’s death.
Kersh said Baker sent e-mails just before and after those 2006 Internet searches and site visits, indicating he — not anyone else — was at the computer looking at the pharmaceutical sites and online pharmacies.
Baker is accused of killing his wife Kari, whose death initially was ruled a suicide. A near-empty bottle of over-the-counter sleeping pills and typed suicide note were found by her body, and Baker said she had been depressed.
A month before his wife’s death in April 2006, Baker looked at six Web sites on the same day and did a Google search using the words “overdose on sleeping pills,” Kersh testified. Baker looked at a dozen more sites on three other days in March, and looked at 11 more just three days before her death, Kersh said.
Mark E. Henry, the CEO of an online pharmacy, testified that Baker started to buy a 50-count bottle of the prescription sleep aid Ambien but stopped the order.
Henry, who said he examined records from his database to determine the activity from Baker’s computer, said numerous customers in 2006 stopped their orders because at the time, the company’s delivery could take 10 days and there was no way to track an order.
Ambien was one of three drugs found in Kari Baker’s body, but the amount in her system or when it was ingested could not be determined because the autopsy was performed three months after her death and her body had been embalmed, two doctors involved in her autopsy testified earlier.
The autopsy listed her death as undetermined.
Kersh and Henry said Baker did not buy Ambien that day in March. But Kersh testified that he did not have Baker’s youth center computer, where the hard drive would have stored deleted e-mails and Internet searches, so it was impossible to say whether Baker ever bought anything from an online pharmacy.
Defense attorney Guy James Gray told Kersh that Baker’s credit cards showed no such purchases and that Baker looked at the sites because he was worried about his depressed wife.
Kersh said he also retrieved an e-mail to Baker in June 2006 from a resort employee “regarding your honeymoon in Fiji” and congratulating him on his engagement. Kersh said he retrieved a photo taken two weeks after Kari’s death, showing five children, Baker and another woman — apparently taken at his daughter’s birthday party.
Earlier Thursday, two people who had known the Bakers from church testified that they attended the party and saw that all of Kari’s pictures were gone from the home — and that they had been replaced with ones of another woman.
Todd Monsey, who worked in some churches where Baker had been a pastor, said he noticed that Kari’s closet was almost empty. He said that when he asked about it, Baker told him that it was best for his grieving daughters “not to be reminded so much” of their mother.
His sister Jennifer Monsey testified that she left the party after seeing the woman’s head in Matt Baker’s lap as his daughters and other girls watched a movie.
“It just didn’t seem right,” Jennifer Monsey testified. “There were pictures of (the woman) and her kids where there had been pictures of Kari.”
Earlier, prosecutors played part of a videotaped deposition and some clips from news programs where Matt Baker discussed his wife’s death. He told “48 Hours” that “I never thought in a million years my wife would do this.”
In one interview, he said his wife was awake before he left about 11:10 p.m. to get gas and rent a movie. In another interview, he said she was asleep.
He called 911 about midnight to report finding his wife dead with a suicide note nearby.