Catawba County prosecutors may face a daunting task in trying to prove that Elisa Baker killed her stepdaughter without clear evidence to show how the 10-year-old girl died.
In an autopsy revealed Monday, the N.C. Medical Examiner's Office concluded that Zahra died as a result of "undetermined homicidal violence."
"I've never heard that term before," Steve Ward, a Mecklenburg prosecutor for 25 years, told the Observer. "It means the medical examiner is saying the victim was killed, but they have no idea how it happened."
Elisa Baker, 42, was charged Monday with second-degree murder in connection with Zahra's death. She's being held on more than $200,000 bond and is set to appear in court Friday.
She has denied any wrongdoing and accuses her husband, Adam Baker, of dismembering his daughter's body after she discovered Zahra dead from an illness.
Reached Tuesday, the medical examiner's office would not talk about the autopsy or offer any more explanation of its finding of "undetermined homicidal violence."
The autopsy offers few clues to why medical examiners concluded a killing occurred. The report describes Zahra's medical history, including her battle with cancer, but said sparse recent records failed to reveal any major health problems.
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