Cellmate Says Kennedy Bragged About Killing Baker

| April 13, 2019

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – Richard Kennedy’s cellmate at the Venango County Jail told the jury that Kennedy confided in him about killing Tausha Baker.

“He said he killed a girl,” said Joseph Ibarra, who testified in Kennedy’s murder trial that he was Kennedy’s cellmate on at least three occasions.

Ibarra then gave details that Kennedy had told him that matched some of the previous testimony and evidence given in the case in which Kennedy is accused of killing Tausha Baker of Franklin on October 27, 2017.

He talked about Kennedy telling him about burning Baker’s body, smashing her face in, and how a rock was used. He also testified that Kennedy told him that he had used a frying pan to beat Baker at one point.

When asked by Assistant Venango County District Attorney Kyle Peasley what Kennedy said, Ibarra, who got a plea deal to testify, said, “No disrespect to the victim’s family, he said ‘The bitch got what she got.’”

Peasley asked Ibarra what Kennedy told him about using a rock.

“So, she wouldn’t be identifiable,” Ibarra said. “He said, no face, no case.”

The “no face, no case” had been referenced by Kennedy’s then-girlfriend, Amanda Cypher, during her testimony Wednesday and Thursday as well.

Peasley then showed Ibarra a picture of the door frame in one of the cells he shared with Kennedy that also had the “no face, no case” phrase on it.

Ibarra, when asked if he knew the source of what was in the picture, said that he did.

“Yes, Richard Kennedy. It matches with all the other stuff he was writing on the wall.”

Ibarra also testified that Kennedy told Ibarra that he didn’t understand how Cypher could testify against him because “she had taken off” (Baker’s) clothes, which is also something Cypher had told the jury earlier in the week.

During his testimony, Ibarra told the jury that Kennedy told him Cypher tried to intervene when Kennedy was beating Baker, but Kennedy beat Cypher because of saying he had to “let her have it.”

Ibarra’s plea deal sees him getting a reduction in charges against him with a charge of aggravated assault being reduced to a DUI, Resisting Arrest, and two charges of Simple Assault.

Defense attorney James Miller tried to jump on the reduced charges and asked why Ibarra didn’t talk to police as soon as Kennedy told him his story.

“I didn’t have a (lawyer) until July,” said Ibarra, who first told police what he knew in August of 2018.

When asked when Kennedy started telling him the story, Ibarra told the jury, it started in the rec yard and then later in the day room and happened over a period of time.

Miller asked him how many times Kennedy talked to him about why Kennedy was in jail.

“Various times,” Ibarra said. “I can’t put a number on it.”

Ibarra also testified that Kennedy said he was cut when Baker fought back.

Miller then asked if that (the cut) happened in the kitchen at the 1313 New Street house where the prosecution says the alleged crime started (Cypher testified that Kennedy said he cut himself at the Waterworks Road site where Baker’s body was dumped and eventually burned). But, Ibarra said Kennedy didn’t say where it happened, and he, Ibarra, wasn’t there.

Tausha Baker

Miller also asked why Kennedy would tell Ibarra that he murdered Baker.

“He was bragging,” Ibarra said.

When asked again by Assistant DA Peasley about the $200.00, Ibarra said Kennedy told him, “That is not even why I killed the bitch.”

MILITELLO TAKES THE STAND

Greg Militello, who lived in the basement of the Buffalo Street house that Tausha Baker and her father, Doug, lived in, also testified.

Militello told the jury he was selling crack and had sold crack to both Baker and Cypher and also that Baker was getting crack off him and going out and selling it, as well. In cross-examination, he said he sold crack to Cypher on two or three occasions and smoked it with her each time.

He also testified that Cypher owed him $50.00 and that Cypher also owed Tausha Baker and Doug Baker money, as well.

Militello, however, seemed to go back and forth on whether it was Baker who owed Cypher or Cypher who owed Baker money during cross-examination from Miller. He did say the two fought.

“They were fighting over money,” Militello said. “I offered to pay for whoever’s debt it was.”

District Attorney Shawn White then went over a series of text messages and phone calls between Cypher and Militello in the early morning hours of October 27, 2017, the day Baker died. White had gone over Cypher’s side of the text messages earlier in the trial and then had Militello read his responses Friday.

The basic gist of the text messages was that Cypher wanted to buy crack off Militello, which confirmed what Cypher had testified earlier.

Militello also testified to going over to the New Street house in the early morning hours of October 27, 2017, but “feeling like he was being set up,” he turned around and left. The fact Militello turned around and left was also mentioned in previous testimony in the case. He said that Baker was with him at the time but stayed in his SUV, a Ford Edge. He said Baker drove because he didn’t have a license.

He then said Baker ended up going back over to the New Street house and later – at 8:58 a.m. – called him and told him to give Cypher and Kennedy whatever they wanted and that Cypher came over to the house he was staying, and he gave her a ½ gram of crack, and he and Cypher also smoked the crack. He testified that Cypher was there for around 15 or 20 minutes.

White then showed Militello a series of text messages he sent to Baker asking where she was.

He then testified that Cypher and Kennedy showed up at his house just before noon, and he sent Baker a text message saying that “people were at the house, and they were really freaking out.”

He confirmed those people were Cypher and Kennedy.

“They came in acting like they were looking for Tausha,” Militello said. “Amanda stayed, and he left for a couple of minutes or so.”

Militello said the three of them – he, Cypher and Kennedy – got high on crack during that time.

He said that later Kennedy started asking about the $200.00.

In cross-examination from Miller, Militello was asked if he was ever arrested and put in the Venango County Jail. He said he was, and when asked, confirmed that he was in the same cell block as Ibarra.

“We met briefly when I was there,” Militello said.

White asked Militello if, when he met Ibarra, if Ibarra already knew Kennedy.

“Yes, sir,” Militello said.

He then asked Militello if Ibarra already knew the “facts” of the case.

“Yes sir,” Militello responded.

VIDEO USED TO BACKUP PROSECUTION TIMELINE

White called his final witness of the day in Paul Swatzler, a Detective for White’s office, and had Swatzler walk the jury through 36 video clips starting at 9:07 a.m. on October 27, 2017, and ending at just after 7:00 p.m. the same day.

The various clips were used to show the jury that the timeline the defense has set forth in the case can be verified with video. Most of the video was from two cameras at the Child Development Center in Franklin – one facing Elm Street (CDCE) and another overlooking a parking lot (CDCP). Video was also obtained from the Northwest Savings Bank ATM machine facing Liberty Street at 13th Street, the Franklin City Building on 13th Street just up the street from the Northwest Savings Bank, Colonial Towers or Manor on Chestnut Street, the Kwik Fill on 15th Street Hill, a private residence on Elk Street just as Waterworks Road becomes Elk Street, and from a camera at Arbor Circle.

Some of the video clips showed what appeared to be Militello’s Ford Edge, which prosecutor’s say Kennedy and Cypher used to transport Baker’s body from New Street to Waterworks Road and then used to return to Waterworks Road on at least two other occasions that day, in various locations around Franklin that correspond with the prosecution’s timeline.

Other videos show who Swatzler believes to be Kennedy walking in the area of the Child Development Center at the times laid out by the prosecution, and Kennedy and Cypher walking past Franklin City Hall and the Child Development Center after ditching the Ford Edge.

A video also shows a man believed to be William Umstead, the resident at 1313 New Street, walking to and from Doug Baker’s house around the time other testimony said Umstead had done so.

Video also shows the Ford Edge passing the private residence on Elk Street heading towards Franklin at approximately 10:24 a.m. and again at 10:45 a.m. putting the car in the vicinity of Waterworks Road when police first believe Baker’s body was dumped. Video again shows the Ford Edge at the private residence on Elk Street at around 4:41 p.m. heading towards Franklin. This would line up with when the prosecution says Kennedy and Cypher returned to the dump site to burn Baker’s body a second time. It was shortly after the car is seen here that what is believed to be Kennedy and Cypher are seen walking past the Franklin City Hall having allegedly dumped the car around 4:53 p.m. or 4:54 p.m. Video shortly after that (4:57 p.m.) from the Child Development Center shows a Franklin police officer approaching both Kennedy and Cypher, and Kennedy appearing to flee while Cypher doesn’t, which backs up the story of Franklin Police Officer Kurt Gindhart.

Further video showed Kennedy in the Arbor Circle area from around 6:30 p.m. until 7:13 p.m. when he is arrested by state police and Franklin City police.

Defense attorney Robert Kinnear declined to cross-examine Swatzler.

The trial will resume at approximately 10:00 a.m. on Saturday (the jury was told to report at 9:45 a.m.). It is believed the prosecution will rest its case and the defense will start its case.


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