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Baird v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma

June 1, 2017










          HUDSON, JUDGE

         ¶1 Appellant David Lee Baird was tried and convicted by a jury in the District Court of Comanche County, Case No. CF-2013-493, for the crimes of Count 1: First Degree Murder, in violation of 21 O.S.Supp.2012, § 701.7 (A); Count 3: Unlawful Desecration of Dead Body, in violation of 21 O.S.2011, § 1161.1; Count 4: Forging Certificate of Title, in violation of 47 O.S.2011, § 4-109; and Count 5: Obtaining Food Stamps by Fraud, in violation of 56 O.S.2011, § 243 (A)(6). [1] The jury recommended Baird be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole on Count 1; seven (7) years imprisonment and a fine of $8, 000.00 on Count 3; a fine of $5, 000.00 on Count 4; and three (3) months in the county jail and a fine of $500.00 on Count 5. The Honorable Gerald Neuwirth, District Judge, sentenced Appellant in accordance with the jury's verdicts and ordered that Counts 1 and 3 run consecutively to each other, and that Count 5 run concurrently with Count 1. Baird now appeals. We affirm.


         ¶2 In the early morning hours of September 12, 2013, the body of Claudine Marroquin was found in a shallow grave in the backyard of the home she shared with her husband, Appellant. The evidence showed Appellant murdered his wife approximately two weeks earlier after an argument on August 24, 2013.

         ¶3 On the night of August 24, 2013, Claudine spoke with her sister, Elizabeth Marroquin, on the telephone. Claudine was at home. She was upset with Appellant because he wanted to have sex and he was agitated with her. Elizabeth instructed Claudine to ignore him and go into a different room, which she did. Walking into the other room, Claudine discovered Appellant had pushed a big-screen television off a dresser and broken it. Elizabeth then heard Claudine and Appellant begin to argue. Claudine told Appellant she should not be with him and she should divorce him.

         ¶4 As the two argued, Claudine expressed to Elizabeth that Appellant got on her nerves and she was tired of it. At some point, the phone call disconnected. When Claudine called Elizabeth back approximately five to ten minutes later, Claudine told her, "Somebody is going to die tonight. We are knife to knife. Somebody is going to die tonight. It is either going to be me or him, but somebody is going to die tonight." Claudine-scared, screaming and afraid for her life-was crying as she said this. Elizabeth urged her sister to calm down.

         ¶5 In addition to the multiple telephone calls between them that night, Claudine also sent text messages to Elizabeth, pleading with Elizabeth to come help her. While Elizabeth was scared for Claudine, she had heard Appellant and her sister argue like this before, and she did not expect the situation to escalate. During their last phone conversation, Elizabeth suggested Claudine ask Appellant if she could go to Elizabeth's house to calm down. Elizabeth heard Claudine ask this of Appellant, and he agreed. Claudine told Elizabeth that she needed to grab some clothes before she left. This was the last time Elizabeth spoke to her sister. Claudine never made it to Elizabeth's house.

         ¶6 After waiting several hours for Claudine to arrive, Elizabeth went to the Claudine's house to check on her. When she arrived around 3 a.m., the lights were off and she saw the big screen television lying in the middle of the yard. Elizabeth banged on the doors and screamed, begging her sister to open the door. Getting no response, Elizabeth pushed the panic button on her car alarm, leaving it running for 30 minutes at a time. Although Claudine never came to the door, Elizabeth could hear Appellant inside, getting irritated, cursing and grunting. Elizabeth also tried to pry her way into the house, but the door was wired shut-something Elizabeth had not encountered before at her sister's house. Elizabeth eventually gave up and returned home around 8 a.m. She called the police to report her sister missing but was advised by an officer that it was too early to file such a report.

         ¶7 Approximately two weeks later, Elizabeth formally filed a missing person's report on Claudine. Around 5:30 p.m. on September 11, 2013, Lawton Police Officer Chester Howe went to the victim's home in an attempt to make contact with her. When he knocked, nobody came to the door. He subsequently walked around to the eastside of the house, where he encountered "a real strong smell of what [] can only [be] describe[d] as something being dead." At that point, Howe called his supervisor, Lieutenant Charlie Martin, and advised him of what he had seen and smelled.

         ¶8 Lieutenant Martin, along with Captain Troy Morris and Detective Ken Parsons, arrived at the scene at approximately 6 p.m. The officers eventually made contact with Appellant, who allowed them to enter the home to look for Claudine. While walking through the house, Detective Parsons noticed some blood on the door frame between the living room and the kitchen. Upon seeing the blood, Detective Parsons asked Appellant where Claudine was. Appellant said he did not know, but thought she may have gone out of town, possibly to Costa Rica. Detective Parsons also asked Appellant if he had been injured, and he said no. Thereafter, Parsons asked Appellant if they could search the house more thoroughly and obtain a DNA sample from him. Appellant said no to both requests. Everyone, including Appellant, exited the house at that point and the scene was secured while a search warrant could be obtained. Appellant went to the Ranch Motel.

         ¶9 Detective Parsons returned to the house with the search warrant around 10 p.m. Inside, officers found two folding knives, a loaded revolver and three swords. A briefcase containing numerous electrical cords was discovered on the top shelf of the master bedroom closet. Additionally, in a hallway linen cabinet, officers found a set of brass knuckles within the folds of the linens. A piece of yellow nylon rope along with some large trash bags were found in a guest bedroom. In the laundry room, a pair of disposable gloves was found lying on top of the trash.

         ¶10 The victim was ultimately found buried in a small, shallow grave in the backyard of the house. The grave was covered with a blue swimming pool liner. On top of the liner were five tires, a ladder and a blue tub. The grave was about eleven inches deep and three-and-a-half to four feet long. The victim's body was contained inside a plastic bag in the grave, similar to a large trash bag found in the guest bedroom of the house. Tool marks that appeared to be made from a shovel were found during the excavation of the grave, and a scrap of label found in the grave near the body matched the partial label on a shovel found in a backyard shed. A piece of green fabric was also found in the grave. The fabric appeared to be from a silk flower, similar to silk flowers found in the master bedroom closet.

         ¶11 Appellant was arrested at the Ranch Motel following the discovery of the victim's body. Among the personal items with Appellant inside the motel room was an Oklahoma Access card with Claudine's name on it.

         ¶12 Dr. Marc Harrison performed the autopsy on Claudine's body. She was contained in a black plastic bag tied with a white electrical cord. A similar cord was found wrapped around her ankles. Claudine's head was covered with two plastic bags, one of which was in two pieces and covered with a second loosely-tied bag. These plastic bags were similar to a trash bag found in the laundry room of Appellant's house. A can of pepper spray was found in Claudine's bra. Her body was in a moderate to early advanced state of decomposition, meaning her body was bloating with gases, and her skin was stained and beginning to slough off all over her body. Because of the skin sloughing and decomposition, Dr. Harrison was unable to see any bruises or trauma that may have been present on Claudine's external skin. Due to the plastic bags around her head and the fact her body was contained in another bag, Dr. Harrison determine the probable cause of her death to be asphyxia due to smothering.

         ¶13 Between the time Elizabeth last spoke to Claudine and when her body was discovered, Appellant got rid of Claudine's belongings, donating several bags of women's clothing to Goodwill and selling other items at a garage sale held by the Jung family. Appellant told the Jung's, who were his friends, that Claudine had gone to an island somewhere and was not coming back. During this time, Appellant also purchased groceries for the Jung family. The grocery receipt showed that the groceries were bought with food stamps. He additionally sold Claudine's 1999 Mazda pickup truck to Tony Warren. At the time of the sale, Appellant gave Mr. Warren the car title, which bore Claudine's purported signature. Elizabeth testified the signature on the certificate of title was not her sister's.

         I. Claim of Double Jeopardy Following Mistrial.

         ¶14 In his first proposition of error, Appellant contends the trial of this case was barred by double jeopardy after his first trial ended in ...

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