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.