published Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

State rests its case in Sequatchie County murder trial

DUNLAP, Tenn. — Action this morning in the homicide trial of Susan L. Baker in Sequatchie County contained testimony from the medical examiner and a Hixson bar owner who purchased the murder weapon after the Feb. 2, 2011, killing of Clifford Carden Jr.

Baker, 35 at the time of the crime, is charged with felony murder, especially aggravated robbery and setting fire to personal property in a trial before Circuit Court Judge Buddy Perry in Sequatchie County. Codefendent Bryan Bettis faces the same charges but their cases have been separated.

As of late afternoon, the state had rested its case and the defense was beginning to call its witnesses.

Dr. Adele Lewis testified that Carden was killed with a single gunshot to his right temple from a range of 2 inches to 3 feet.

Lewis said Carden's face near the wound had stippling from ejected gunpowder that struck him when the shot was fired, indicating an "intermediate" range shot.

There was no exit wound and a bullet was recovered from his body, Lewis testified.

The owner of former Frank's Bar & Grill in Hixson, Gary Harding, testified that Baker and another man named “Randall” came to his bar and sold him a 9-mm, “13- to 15-shot” pistol for $150 or $175.

Harding testified that he had never seen Baker before that day. He said he turned the gun over to TBI and FBI agents when they came to the bar to talk to him about the gun during the investigation.

Assistant District attorneys Steve Strain and David Shinn will continue to call state's witnesses following a break for lunch. Baker is represented by Sam Hudson.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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