INSIDE: Whidbey Island Area Fair Guide
Record South Whidbey
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2012 | Vol. 88, No. 65 | www.SOUTHWHIDBEYRECORD.com | 75¢
Fretting begins with Fair preparations
Shakespeare Festival drops LMS field from consideration BY BEN WATANABE Staff reporter
Ben Watanabe / The Record
Sam Mutschler, Taylor Tangeman, Nicholas Johnson and Holly Johnson decorate the stalls for the 4-H dog events at the Island County Fairgrounds. The four youngsters are members of the Happy Hounds 4-H group that will present their canines during the Whidbey Island Fair this week. Look inside for a guide to the fair, and look in coming issues for coverage and photos from the fairgrounds.
Suspected wife killer’s arraignment fails again By JESSIE STENSLAND Staff reporter
The Greenbank man and pizza joint owner accused of killing his wife and hiding her body in a tarp is having trouble retaining an attorney. Robert “Al” Baker, 62, appeared in court Monday, but left without being arraigned. It was the third time his arraignment has been postponed. He’s facing first-degree murder in the death of his wife, 53-year-old Kathie Baker. Attorney Tom Pacher, who holds the county’s public defense contract, stood beside him in court and explained that Baker’s “circumstances have changed.” The judge put off the hearing for a week to give Baker the chance to see if he qualifies for public defense, which is for indigent defendants. Baker was arrested after his wife’s body was discovered in a ravine behind his house June 9. Baker first tried to retain attorney Craig Platt, who has a private practice in Oak Harbor. Baker’s assets became tied up in court. One of Kathie Baker’s relatives, Jami Hill of Oregon, became the personal representative of her estate. Her attorney, Charles Arndt of Coupeville, filed a petition in Island County Superior Court July 5 for an order protecting
the Bakers’ joint assets. Judge Vickie Churchill signed the order July 30. The motion cites the state’s “slayer statute” as it “applies to deprive Robert Baker of any benefit of decedent’s death.” It lists the joint assets as her life insurance policy, retirement account, their joint checking and savings accounts, their pizza business in Freeland and their home on Silver Cloud Lane in Greenbank. Platt entered his notice of withdrawal Aug. 10. A detective’s report on the case indicates that the motive for the murder may have been another woman. A woman from Alaska was staying with Al Baker at his Greenbank home while Kathie’s tarp-wrapped body was in a ravine at the back of the house, court documents state. Kathie was last seen alive June 2. Deputies with the Island County Sheriff’s Office started investigating her disappearance after Kathie’s boss at Raytheon Corporation in Denver reported that he couldn’t contact her. After finding bloody drag marks in the house and getting contradictory stories from Al Baker about his wife’s whereabouts, detectives See Arraignment, A6
Jessie Stensland / Record file
Arraignment for Robert “Al” Baker, the alleged killer of his wife Kathie Baker, was postponed Monday.
Like Hamlet did Claudius, the Island Shakespeare Festival killed a plan to use the field at Langley Middle School. At the behest of the city of Langley, the festival’s organizers met with the South Whidbey School Board. During the school board meeting Aug. 8, the festival group proposed to use the field near the disused track. Only a few blocks and a short walk from Langley’s commercial core of restaurants, inns and boutiques, the flat, grassy area — though a bit worn — seemed an alluring prospect for both parties. However, the festival’s founder and artistic director said she plans to keep it at the StoryHouse Theater at the Chinook lands in Clinton. “We’re not interested in leaving our current location. We’ve been extremely happy at the Chinook lands,” Woods said. “There’s a certain amount of magic of going into the woods and seeing a Shakespeare festival.” The original plan had a target date for next August. That meant the school district and festival group agreeing to rent or lease terms, landscaping the field and building stage and seating platforms. “It was a pretty ambitious timeline anyway, from the process of getting approval of the board to having plans and acceptance of the community,” said Board Chairman Steve Scoles. “To do it in one year and create a permanent structure, it would be hard to do it on such a short timeline.” The news surprised Board Member Linda Racicot on Monday afternoon. She planned to walk with school district officials, an architect and the festival’s representatives to review the field in the near future. Racicot, a former middle school teacher, envisioned a joint-use space. The stage could have been used for professional productions during the festival and also give students at the middle school, which does not have a drama program, a chance to engage in stage work and take in the Bard’s tales. See Festival, A6