Courts & Crime

Zahra Baker's father wants to take her remains to Australia

LENOIR, N.C. — Adam Baker, whose wife pleaded guilty to murdering his 10-year-old daughter, Zahra, says he feels like a hostage.

He can't return to Australia while the felony and misdemeanor crimes he's been accused of committing remain pending. And he can't work, he says, because he's been accused of being in the country illegally.

"I want to go back to Australia. So I can take Zahra back home," Baker told the Observer Thursday as he sat in a courtroom at the Caldwell County Courthouse waiting to find out if prosecutors would dispose of the charges against him.

Baker, 34, is charged in Caldwell County with assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of communicating threats, failure to return rental property and five counts of writing worthless checks. The offenses are all misdemeanors, and on Thursday the cases were continued until January.

Baker also is charged in Catawba County with felony identity theft and felony obtaining property by false pretense. He's scheduled to appear in court on those charges on Monday.

None of the charges relate to Zahra's death. All the misdemeanors have been pending since 2010.

"I don't intend to plead guilty," Adam Baker told the Observer.

Adam Baker's attorney, Shell Pearce, also expressed frustration Thursday that his client's misdemeanor cases had been postponed until 2012.

"We were ready to go to trial," Pearce told reporters. "Adam wants it over. The man says he's not guilty."

Elisa Baker pleaded guilty in September to second-degree murder in connection with Zahra's death and was sentenced to 15 to 18 years in prison. She is now in the Mecklenburg County jail awaiting trial on federal drug charges.

Zahra's body was dismembered in 2010 and her body parts scattered at different locations in Catawba County.

In an interview with the Observer last month, Elisa Baker insisted that she is innocent of Zahra's murder. She portrayed herself as a loving stepmother and unwilling participant in covering up Zahra's mysterious death. She accused Adam Baker of dismembering his daughter and hiding her body parts.

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