News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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May 2, 2013

Boswell on DNA: ‘It’s not mine’

Jury hears taped interviews with suspect in 1979 homicide

TERRE HAUTE — “It’s not mine,” Richard Boswell Jr. says twice in a recorded interview with Indiana State Police detectives investigating a 1979 homicide at Riley.

Boswell is referring to DNA evidence found on a shirt worn by a 1979 homicide victim. His taped denial comes a few minutes before Boswell is arrested and charged in the May 1979 killing of 20-year-old Kathy Jo Baker and the attempted murder of her then-2-year-old son.

Testimony continued Wednesday in the second trial for Boswell, 55, of Riley. A trial in January was declared a mistrial because of statements made by a former prison mate of Boswell, who claimed that the defendant made a jailhouse confession of the 1979 slaying.

The jury in Vigo Superior Court 6 on Wednesday heard three recordings of Boswell talking in 2010 to detectives Troy Stanton and Tony Guinn as they discuss the Baker killing.

The first recording from August 2010 was made just days after detectives learned that a lab test linked Boswell’s DNA to a small blood spot on a T-shirt found on Baker’s body. Boswell was not considered a suspect in the original 1979 investigation of Baker’s death. In an October 2010 interview, Stanton says to Boswell, “I’m telling you, your blood is on her body. Your DNA.”

“There’s no reason my blood should be on her,” Boswell replies.

Baker and her toddler son went missing from their rural Riley home on May 22, 1979. Baker’s body and the seriously injured child were found the next day in a secluded, marshy area more than a mile from their home. The child was hospitalized and now lives with his father in Vigo County.

Guinn testified in court Wednesday that even though he and Stanton sound friendly and merely curious about the Baker killing in their interviews with Boswell, they believe he is guilty of murdering the young mother and housewife.

In a second day of testimony, the six-woman, six-man jury also heard from the state trooper who originally reopened the investigation into the cold case homicide after receiving a tip from a woman who suspected her former husband of the murder and attempted murder.

Hans Nowak, who was a detective in 2008, said he saw that none of the evidence collected in the case had ever been submitted to a laboratory for DNA analysis, so he contacted an evidence technician and asked for crime scene items, such as Baker’s shirt, to be checked for DNA.

In 2010, the ISP lab reported a DNA hit on evidence for a person in the state’s database. That person, Richard Boswell Jr., had been mentioned in the original case file of the 1979 case, Nowak said, but Boswell was never interviewed or considered a suspect.

Because Nowak had returned to road patrol and was no longer a detective in 2010, the case was passed on to Stanton and Guinn.

The jury also heard from pathologist Dr. Lawrence DeRenne, who performed the autopsy on Baker. The doctor explained how he ruled strangulation as the primary cause of Baker’s death, saying she was “throttled” by someone’s right hand around the front part of her neck.

Retired ISP Capt. Don Null also testified about evidence that he collected at the site where Baker’s body was found and the photos he took of her body in the marshy area and at the hospital morgue.

During the taped interviews, Boswell stated that he knew who Kathy Baker was because he was friends with her brothers. He also stated that he drove Baker to her house one day to work on a lawnmower and said that event occurred about a year before she died.

Boswell also told the detectives that in 1979 he drove a yellow Pontiac Astre, which is almost identical to a Chevrolet Vega — a car reportedly seen in the area before Baker’s death, as described by another witness from the 1979 interview. That witness testified about the car in the January mistrial and is expected to return to the witness stand today.

Trial deputy Dan McGlone said witness testimony for the prosecution should wrap up today. Closing arguments and jury deliberations are expected to begin Friday.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

 

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