BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The trial for Cynthia Baker, who is charged for the murder of her ex-boyfriend’s 8-year-old daughter, continued into day two on Wednesday at the Law and Justice Center in Bloomington.
The day began with the jury being sworn in and opening statements.
Prosecutors said “Baker hated” the girl, Rica Rountree, and showed a graphic picture of the alleged abuse she endured at the hands of Baker. They also said there is video evidence of her beating and verbally abusing the girl.
According to the state, Baker exchanged texts with her boyfriend about how much she hated Rountree. She allegedly wrote “I don’t like her at the house,” “I really hate your daughter,” “I can continue to beat her and go about my day,” and “If she was mine, I would strangle her.”
Baker, 42, of Normal, was arrested in April. She is accused of fatally kicking Rountree in the stomach, which led to massive internal injuries that eventually killed her. Additionally, the child’s autopsy results showed multiple scars, which indicated a months-long span of abuse.
Baker was dating the girl’s father at the time. She was indicted for three counts of murder, one count of aggravated battery of a child, and one count of aggravated domestic battery.
In hearings leading up to the start of the trial, prosecutors told a judge that videos from Baker’s cell phone show her kneeing the girl in the back, hitting her head against a wall, and other incidents of abuse. Baker is also accused of ignoring a doctor’s orders to take Rountree for x-rays.
Baker’s lawyer John Ringel said he was “shocked at the videos” but asked jurors to listen to all the facts before forming their opinions.
In an effort to give his client a fighting chance, Ringel told the jury its not their job to determine if Baker could have killed the girl; rather, whether she did beyond a reasonable doubt.
Rountree’s third-grade teacher and an EMT paramedic took the stand on Wednesday.
The paramedic, Matthew Johann, arrived to the house on the day Rountree died, and said Baker was “calm, not emotional.”
“Baker gave information calmly and did not appear to be distraught,” Johann said when the defense questioned him. He said nothing about her demeanor “was abnormal.”
Baker told a judge on Tuesday she was not interested in any kind of plea deal. If she’s convicted on all counts, the judge could sentence Baker to more than 200 years in prison.