Susan Lynette Baker Murder Trial Set To Begin Jan. 23 In Dunlap

Graysville Woman Charged With Killing Cliff “Roddy” Carden With His Own Gun In 2010

Sunday, January 13, 2013 - by Judy Frank

Nearly two years after a 55-year-old Graysville man allegedly was killed for drugs and $1,000, the case against the woman who prosecutors say pulled the trigger will finally be unveiled in a Sequatchie County courtroom.

Trial is set for Jan. 24 for Susan Lynette Baker, 37, of 185 Hixson Road in Graysville.

Charges against her include felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and setting fire to personal property and land.

She has been free on $150,000 bond since early 2010.

Ms. Baker is one of two suspects in the Feb. 2, 2010, murder of Clifford “Roddy” Carden, who earlier court testimony has indicated was a drug dealer.

On Feb. 8, six days after the murder, Whitwell resident Thomas Bettis approached Sequatchie County authorities and told them that Ms. Baker shot the victim with his own gun while he was giving her and Bettis a ride in his 1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

Bettis reportedly told police he helped Ms. Baker dispose of the body because he was afraid she might also kill him, according to testimony during a 2010 preliminary hearing.

Ms. Baker, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, fired the fatal shot, assistant district attorney general Steve Strain said at that time. He said Bettis, who was riding in the back, helped Ms. Baker dispose of the body, spend a sizable chunk of the $1,006 they stole from the victim at the Dunlap Wal-Mart, and then “shacked up with her” for several days at the Mountain Inn and Suites.

Ms. Baker, interviewed later, admitted shooting Carden, according to the prosecutor. However, he said, she insisted that the plan was to steal his money and the illegal drugs the victim had been planning to sell.

In court, neither of the defense attorneys denied their clients’ respective roles in the killing and subsequent robbery. But defense attorney Rob Philyaw, who was appointed to represent Ms. Baker, hinted at the strategy he will use to represent his client.

Isn’t it true, attorney Philyaw asked Investigator Joe Lockhart of the Sequatchie County Sheriff’s Department – the only witness to take the stand – that Ms. Baker told officers she had been subjected to domestic abuse by the man she killed?

“She said something like that,” the officer replied.

Officer Lockhart staunchly denied attorney Philyaw’s questions regarding whether Ms. Baker was under the influence of drugs at the time she was questioned – although he did acknowledge, under close questioning, that he had heard reports she went through withdrawal after being put in jail.

Public Defender Jeff Harman, representing Bettis, acknowledged that his client helped dispose of the dead man’s body by dumping it into the Sequatchie River under Pickett Bridge.

Later, he acknowledged, his client went to Walmart with Ms. Baker and then spent several days with her in the motel.

However, the attorney went on, Bettis was afraid to not do what Ms. Baker wanted because she kept the dead man’s gun with her at all times and he feared she would shoot him, too.

The two, who had been involved in an off-and-on sexual relationship for months, went their separate ways after leaving the motel, attorneys said.


McCormick Says Tax Increase Is Last Resort For Transportation Infrastructure

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick released the following statement to clarify previous remarks regarding transportation infrastructure funding: "I would like to take the opportunity to clarify my comments made to the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club yesterday regarding Tennessee’s transportation infrastructure. In no way am I advocating for our state to take on debt to fund ... (click for more)

Medical Examiner Changes Opinion In Case In Which Teen Lost Baby After Beating By Boyfriend

Hamilton County Medical Examiner Dr. James Metcalfe testified Tuesday that he had changed his findings in the death of a teen's foetus after she said she was beaten by her boyfriend. Dr. Metcalfe first listed the death of "Promise Jones" as a homicide due to blunt force injury.  He said he later determined that it could have been as the result of another cause - placental ... (click for more)

Why Chattanooga Should Stop Granting Apartment Complex PILOTs - And Response

A new report indicates why Chattanooga and Hamilton County officials do not need to extend PILOTs to apartment complex developers. Demand is high, therefore developers will continue to build to meet the demand without PILOTs. What is truly needed in the Chattanooga metroplex is low-income affordable housing. “Homeownership Drops to Lowest Level in Decades” ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Twenty-One, The Wolf

Carl Safina, who is a modern-day genius when it comes to animals and nature, entered my world earlier this week when I read a story he had written about a wolf. Twenty-one, as the wolf was known by his tag number in Yellowstone National Park, was surely the greatest wolf that ever lived. He was legendary in that he never lost a fight when other wolves would challenge his territory ... (click for more)

Dalton Edges Stuart Heights To Conclude Unbeaten Regular Season

The Dalton Dolphins had several key goals when the 2015 Chattanooga Area Swim League season began on the first day of June and they can put a big check mark by the first one, which was to go undefeated in the ever-competitive Blue division. They accomplished that goal before dark on Monday as they defeated a much-improved Stuart Heights squad by a 404-386 final that may have ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Hosts Nashville Friday In NPSL Playoffs

Chattanooga will host this weekend's National Premier Soccer League Southeast Conference playoffs. There are two semifinal matches on Friday with the two winners meeting in the Championship match the following night. “We’re very proud of the team for winning home field advantage,” said board member Krue Brock. “Now that every game is a must-win situation, it will be a big help ... (click for more)