Defense in Kennedy Murder Trial Tries to Establish Cypher as Unreliable Witness

| April 12, 2019

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – The defense in the Richard Kennedy murder trial tried to establish a pattern of an unreliable witness in Amanda Cypher (pictured above) during proceedings on Thursday at the Venango County Courthouse.

Kennedy is accused of killing Tausha Baker on October 27, 2017.

Cypher, who was Kennedy’s girlfriend at the time of Baker’s death, is testifying for the prosecution against Kennedy and had painted a picture during trial proceedings on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, that Kennedy was the one who killed Baker.

During the morning session of the trial on Thursday, defense attorney Robert Kinnear asked Cypher, while also showing her video from her police interview on December 22, 2017, why on at least three occasions she said Baker owed her $200.00, but then during questioning from Venango County District Attorney Shawn White during the trial, she said Baker didn’t owe her any money.

“You are (now) saying that there was no debt owed by Tausha Baker, and you never gave her $200.00, and she didn’t produce ‘weight’ (drugs) as you told police on December 22, 2017?” Kinnear asked Cypher.

“Yes,” Cypher responded, meaning that she is now saying there was no debt owed to her by Baker.

Kinnear had fellow defense attorney Robert Miller play two clips of Cypher’s interview from December 22, 2017. It was during this interview that Cypher first told the story that Kennedy committed the murder and then burned Baker’s body on October 27, 2017.

Tausha Baker

“I gave her $200.00, and she got ripped off,” Cypher is seen and heard telling police in the interview.

A second clip, which actually happened well before the first clip, was then shown with Cypher saying in that clip, “I called up Tausha, and she said she would make it right.”

Kinnear asked Cypher, who admitted during questioning from White that she had lied to police about the $200.00 and some other things during her interviews if anything she told the police (about the murder) is what really happened.

“Yes,” Cypher answered.

Later in the morning cross-examination, Kinnear asked Cypher if she remembered telling Franklin police officer Chris Wagner that Baker owed her $200.00, but that “was no reason for anyone to get hurt.”

“I remember saying it, yes,” Cypher responded. “But, it was a lie.”

“So, that was a third time you told the same lie?” Kinnear came back with.

“Yes,” Cypher said.

In further questioning from Kinnear, the defense attorney got Cypher to admit that crack was being used on October 27, 2017, at 1313 New Street including by William Umstead, who was/is the primary renter of the house. It was at 1313 New Street that police allege and Cypher has testified that Kennedy first beat but didn’t kill Baker on that October day. Umstead had testified earlier in the trial that he did not do cocaine that day.

“You are saying you had crack the next morning (morning of October 27)?” Kinnear asked Cypher.

“Yes, we got it from Greg (Militello),” Cypher answered.

Militello was living the basement of Doug Baker’s house on October 2017. Doug Baker was Tausha Baker’s father, and Tausha Baker was also living at the residence.

Later, during afternoon questioning, Kinnear asked Cypher – who had said that she and Kennedy often did crack together – that if she was high during October 27, 2017, if Kennedy was also high.

“Yes,” Cypher responded.

In the morning, Kinnear asked Cypher if Kennedy knew Tausha Baker and if Kennedy had a “beef” with Baker. Cypher said Kennedy didn’t know Baker and didn’t have a “beef” with her.

Kinnear then said Cypher had a “beef” with Baker.

“I didn’t have a beef with her,” Cypher responded.

In afternoon questioning, Kinnear asked Cypher if she was saying that the first time Kennedy saw Baker was when he killed her.

“Yes,” Cypher said.

Kinnear also wanted to know how many times Kennedy used the phrase “No face, no case,” which is a term Cypher said Kennedy had used with her.

“He told me once,” Cypher said.

Kinnear then continued to press Cypher as to when Kennedy told her that.

“After the incident (Baker’s death),” Cypher responded.

Kinnear then had Miller show 25 minutes of the initial police interview with Cypher at the Franklin Police Department – an interview in which Cypher was told she wasn’t under arrest but also wasn’t let go when she said she “wanted to go home.”

That interview, which took place after midnight on October 28, 2017, ended after Cypher, on multiple occasions late in the interview, asked for a lawyer. It ended despite State Police Officer Eric Rodgers telling her he was “giving her an out” and that she was “passing up an opportunity to help yourself” and that she “blew this wonderful opportunity” (by asking for the lawyer).

After it was acknowledged that she had asked for a lawyer, an unknown person could be heard on the video saying, “She had her chance. She will come to her senses.”

Prior to asking for the lawyer, Cypher did talk to police for approximately 25 minutes.

During that “voluntary” interview, she told police that Baker had arrived at 1313 New Street owing her (Cypher) money.

“She told us to go to the house with Greg,” Cypher said during the October 2017 interview.

Cypher also said that when she and Kennedy went to see Militello and Baker didn’t show up, she and Kennedy went looking for Baker.

“We were walking around, calling, looking for her,” Cypher said in the interview.

Cypher then told police, “I’m not a monster, my boyfriend is not a monster. I’m very worried for her (Baker) and pray to God she is okay.”

When police started questioning Cypher about going to the house of Penny McCoy, where boots of Cypher’s, which later were confirmed via DNA evidence to have Baker’s blood on them, and sneakers of Kennedy’s were found, she at first said she didn’t know McCoy but then said she did.

“I’m confused,” Cypher told police. “I’m trying to remember the late morning. I remember going back to Penny’s house. We sat on the front porch. I asked her for some pants.”

After that, Rodgers told Cypher that the police had a lot of “forensic evidence” that linked her and Kennedy as being together all day (October 27, 2017). In addition, Umstead and Mark Daniels (who was living with Umstead) said while the couple was there the night of October 26, they weren’t there in the morning, and police also had witnesses that placed Cypher and Kennedy on Waterworks Road (where Baker’s body was found) the afternoon of October 27.

Richard Kennedy

“Either (way) Richard is going to throw you under the bus … we are talking to you,” Rodgers is heard telling Cypher. “You don’t want your child (Cypher said she believed she was pregnant at the time but later found out she wasn’t) raised in an institution. (We) are talking to your first. (We) need you to come clean on what happened. You don’t want to pile that all on your shoulders.”

Rodgers then told her that Kennedy wasn’t going to want to spend more time in jail.

“Who is he going to point the finger at?” Rodgers asked.

“Me,” Cypher responded.

Rodgers then told Cypher he believed she didn’t start the fight but that he could “100 percent guarantee” that (Kennedy) was going to put in on her.

“He’s not going to care about your baby,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers then told Cypher he didn’t think she could have done the whole thing but that she was there and knew what happened.

It was at that point in the police interview with Cypher that she started asking about an attorney.

“The first interview would be a lie?” Kinnear asked Cypher.

“Yes,” Cypher said.

Cypher went on to say she lied because she was scared.

“I wanted to go home, I wanted to go home,” Cypher said. “I couldn’t process everything.”

Cypher also said she didn’t know how she felt when she saw police coming towards her that afternoon.

Kinnear asked her why, if she was crying when Baker’s body was being dumped on Waterworks Road, she wasn’t crying when being interviewed later that night by the police.

“I had been through a lot,” Cypher said. “I just wanted to go home.”

DETAILS OF PLEA DEAL CLARIFIED

Prior to cross-examination, White continued his questioning of Cypher that started on Wednesday.

The questioning started with a clarification of the plea deal Cypher had worked out with the Commonwealth in return for her testifying against Kennedy.

Cypher could face a combination of charges including hindering apprehension, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.

Kinnear questioned Cypher about the plea deal, making her read the charges that were originally filed against her in October of 2017 that included Conspiracy to Commit Murder, Aggravated Assault, Abuse of a Corpse, and Tampering with Evidence.

The defense attorney then made Cypher read the additional charges that were filed against her on January 11, 2018, after she had agreed to the plea deal in December of 2017. Additional charges at that time included Criminal Homicide, a second Aggravated Assault charge, and a Hindering Apprehension charge.

“No one (in December) told you they were adding charges?” Kinnear questioned.

“I don’t remember,” Cypher responded.

“So, the fact they were adding charges didn’t affect what you said (in December)?” Kinnear came back with.

“No,” Cypher answered.

Kinnear then asked Cypher if she had lied during the December testimony despite saying she would tell the truth.

“Yes, I did,” Cypher said.

TEXT MESSAGES SET TIMELINE

White also had Cypher read her end of text messages between her and Militello and then Baker from the early morning hours of October 27, 2017.

The text messages started at 2:17 a.m. and continued until after 8:00 a.m.

The first text message at 2:17 a.m., asked Militello if he had any “uptown,” which is street slang for crack.

The next test messages read to the jury started at 4:31 a.m. and included Cypher telling Militello that she had $50.00 and needed a 50 ($50.00 worth of crack).

“I didn’t have it (the $50.00),” Cypher told White. “I (told him) because I wanted him to come over.”

At 4:50 p.m., there was a text message from Cypher that told Militello that she had “40 for both (Doug and Tausha Baker).

“They were asking for money from me,” Cypher told White. “It was probably old money.”

A few more text messages were exchanged – six were read – leading up to just before 6:00 a.m.

Then at 6:17 a.m., Cypher sent Militello a text that said, “Are you coming back. Mark had his friend go upstairs.”

Earlier testimony from Mark Daniels had said that Militello had come to the house but had turned and run away before coming inside. Cypher said that the “friend” she was referring to was Kennedy.

Cypher followed up the 6:17 a.m. text with one at 6:18 saying “WTF,” and then White showed records where Cypher called Militello at 6:30 a.m.

Cypher then sent five more texts between 6:40 a.m. and 6:54 a.m. with the one at 6:54 a.m. saying “Have her bring it” with Cypher saying the “her” referred to Baker.

A few more calls were made to Militello, and then a call was made to Baker from Cypher’s phone at 8:13 a.m.

The next phone call that White showed Cypher was then a call from Baker’s phone to Militello at 8:55 a.m. He asked Cypher if this was the call Kennedy had Baker make to Militello after he attacked Baker at the New Street house, and Cypher said it was.

“So, what time would you say Tausha Baker got to New Street?” White asked.

“Around 8:30 a.m.,” Cypher responded.

DEFENSE PLAYS CYPHER’S DECEMBER INTERVIEW WITH POLICE

During afternoon testimony, the defense elected to play the entire interview Cypher had with police on December 22, 2017, the interview in which they had played snippets from during morning testimony, and also the interview in which Cypher first painted the scene of how it was Kennedy who killed Baker.

The interview nearly mirrored the testimony Cypher gave to the jury on Wednesday, April 20, 2019, with a few new details emerging.

“I was caught off guard,” Cypher said in the December 2017 interview when she says Kennedy attacked Baker as Baker walked into the New Street house kitchen. “I think he thought she was coming with more stuff (drugs and money) on her than just for me.”

In December of 2017, Cypher described to police that Kennedy attacking Baker was “crazy” and that there was no plan once the couple abandoned the car they had used to transport Baker to the Waterworks Road dump site.

“I wasn’t thinking like that,” Cypher told police in December of 2017. “I was still in shock. I didn’t have any rational thoughts.”

In the December 2017 interview, she told police she was scared when they questioned her in October and wished she had told them more.

“I wish now looking back,” Cypher told the police.

During the December 2017 interview, police asked Cypher if Kennedy thought he would get away with it.

“I don’t know, I didn’t ask him that,” Cypher responded.

She also said in that December 2017 interview that she was scared of Kennedy.

“I didn’t know what he would do to me,” Cypher told police at the time.

PROSECUTION USED MAP TO LAY OUT VARIOUS CRIME SCENES

At the end of testimony on Thursday, White brought out a hand-drawn map – actually two maps – of the Franklin area and had Franklin Police Detective Kevin Saragian, the lead investigator on the case, to circle various places where the crime is alleged to have taken place and also where various pieces of evidence and other places mentioned during the trial were located.

On cross-examination, Miller asked Saragian if the map was to scale, and Saragian said he didn’t believe so.

Miller then questioned why Saragian said that he was surprised that Cypher had taken police the “long” way to the Waterworks Road site when her testimony said she had made a bunch of rights – although the way she took police in December of 2017 also included taking only right-hand turns.

The trial is slated to resume at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, April 12. It is believed that the prosecution will wrap up its case Friday and that the defense will possibly start its.


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