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Record South Whidbey

WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2012 | Vol. 88, No. 55 | | 75¢

Suspected murderer’s first court appearance ends swiftly By JUSTIN BURNETT Staff reporter

A Freeland man accused of murdering his wife made a quick appearance in Island County Superior Court Monday. Robert “Al” Baker, 61, was scheduled for arraignment and a bail hearing but the proceedings were cut short when Judge Alan Hancock agreed to a request for continuance. Baker’s counsel, Coupeville attorney Craig Platt, asked to reschedule until next month. His request was in cooperation with Senior Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme of the Island County Prosecutor’s Office. Hancock approved the request and both the arraignment and bail hearing were rescheduled for Aug. 13. Baker is accused of slaying his wife, Kathie Baker, 53, early last month. Her body was found June 9 wrapped in a tarp in a ravine behind the couple’s Greenbank home. She had been hit in the head, possibly with a ball-peen hammer, and strangled with a ligature, according to court records. She was last seen alive on June 2. Along with owning the Harbor Pizzeria in Freeland, the couple also worked for Raytheon Corporation, a major defense contractor. Baker is a scientist and spent part of each year in Antarctica. Kathie’s boss reported to police on June 7 that he couldn’t contact her and asked for a welfare check. Baker allegedly told Island County Sheriff’s deputies that she had flown to Denver, Colo., for her job. Investigators later found See Court, A9

INSIDE: A roaring good book, Island Life, A10

Oh, what a beautiful weekend

Choochokam Festival lands another success By Jim Larsen Record editor

If organizers had designed a weekend perfect for Choochokam, it would have looked like last weekend in Langley. Thousands of islanders and visitors flooded the village by the sea which boasted fair skies, a bright sun that looked like a foreign object after weeks of clouds, toasty temperatures, very little wind and plenty of things to see, do and buy. A line formed early Saturday afternoon at the booth selling shaved ice in a variety of exotic flavors. “It’s excellent; over the top,” said Sue Phillips as she hurried to fill orders. Looking down from the food booths on Anthes Street, one could see the arts tents from which artists sold their wares to curious and desirous customers. And beyond that, down on the beach at low tide, a few kids scurried around the

Jim Larsen / The Record

Like many Choochokam-goers, Raja was dog tired by the end of the day Saturday, so owner Chelsea Jensen had to carry him to her car. “He’s been with other dogs and in the sun all day,” she explained. muddy flats or waded in the waves, while one older couple stood and hugged waist deep in the frigid

water, enjoying a world unto themselves. But the real action was downtown, where a vari-

ety of bands on the main stage on First Street and at the Useless Bay Coffee Company kept musical

notes flying through the air. Drumming could be heard See Weekend, A11

Choochokam band dispute plays out on YouTube clip By Jim Larsen Record editor

Choochokam organizers were figuratively high-fiving one another for pulling off one of the most successful events in recent years and then, YouTube struck. The popular Internet site where anyone can post a video for all the world to see suddenly was showing something called “Stiffed at Choochokam,” and a local dispute over nonpayment to a band became a sensation, at least by Whidbey Island standards. By Tuesday morning the video had attracted 894 “views,” along with dozens of comments, some siding with Choochokam organizers and others with the band. A noisy dispute arose Sunday evening when the band in question, the New Iberian Zydeco Blues Band, finished playing, bringing Langley’s annual Choochokam Arts Festival weekend to a close. Trouble was,

the band didn’t play all original tunes as called for in its contract. Of some 20 songs played before a throng of dancing and toe-tapping onlookers, three were “covers,” or songs owned by someone else. Because the band had been warned after playing its first cover, and then went on to play two more, Choochokam organizers refused to pay the $600 called for in the contract. A couple of band members exploded in anger, expletives were uttered, threats were made, the cops were called, and local resident Mary Jane Miller videotaped it, later posting it as “Stiffed at Choochokam.” The street dance is visible in the video, but by the time the arguing erupted it was dark, so the video mostly consists of voices. Sherry Jennings, co-director of Choochokam, said the band made “a really bad decision.” Large companies See Band, A6

photo by Jiillian Larsen

Islanders and visitors alike enjoy the sounds of the Saturday night street dance at Choochokam. Only later did the atmosphere sour in a dispute over paying the New Iberian Zydeco Blues Band.

South Whidbey Record, July 11, 2012  

July 11, 2012 edition of the South Whidbey Record

South Whidbey Record, July 11, 2012  

July 11, 2012 edition of the South Whidbey Record