Cypher Paints Picture of Kennedy Being Sole Actor in Baker Murder
FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – Amanda Cypher laid out a story on Wednesday that Richard Kennedy was the sole actor in the murder of Tausha Baker despite the fact Cypher witnessed the murder and participated in disposing of the body on October 27, 2017.
Cypher, who near the end of her first day of testimony seemingly answered with a positive when asked by Venango County District Attorney Shawn White if she had struck a deal with the Commonwealth to plead guilty to murder (the degree of murder wasn’t specified) in exchange for her testimony against Kennedy. Kennedy was her boyfriend at the time of the alleged murder. She said Kennedy first attacked Baker at 1313 New Street on the morning of October 27 and later stabbed her, beat her with a rock, and burned her body at a location off Waterworks Road the same day.
“She (Baker) was coming to smoke (crack) with me (at the New Street address),” Cypher, whose testimony including cross-examination will continue at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, told the jury. “He (Kennedy) knew she was coming and why.”
Cypher said after Baker entered the New Street house, which was being rented by William Umstead, she and Baker started towards the kitchen table.
“I heard a struggle behind me,” Cypher said. “I heard the bang, like metal hitting something.”
According to Cypher, when she looked she saw Baker running, and Kennedy behind her. She said Baker ran into the living room and back into the kitchen.
“He was on top of her hitting her with the pan and then his fists,” Cypher testified.
Cypher said Kennedy was hitting Baker on the upper body and head area.
“She was saying stop,” Cypher testified.
According to Cypher, Baker was bleeding from the face and mouth but remained conscious.
“(Kennedy) duct taped her hands and feet,” Cypher said while indicating she didn’t know where Kennedy got the duct tape.
Cypher, who said there was no “cooking” going on at the time of the attack, told the jury that Kennedy sat Baker on a “bucket” in the laundry room and asked her where the money and drugs were, searched her pockets, and then the house without finding any.
“He was angry,” Cypher said. “She said she could get him stuff.”
In her testimony, Cypher said Kennedy held up Baker’s phone, so Baker could call Greg Militello, who was living in the basement Doug Baker’s house (Tausha Baker’s dad), where Tausha Baker was living as well. Cypher said Militello supplied crack to her in the days before the attack (Tausha Baker had arrived at the New Street house in Militello’s Ford Edge SUV, according to previous testimony).
“Tausha told him I was coming over and for (Militello) to give me the rest of the stuff,” Cypher said. “(Kennedy) told me to go over, and I did.”
According to Cypher, she drove Militello’s car that Baker had driven to the New Street house to meet Militello at Doug Baker’s house. Cypher said she parked “a little bit away” from the house because Militello was expecting her to be walking.
Once she met with Militello, she didn’t tell him anything about what had happened to Baker, and, in fact, said she may have taken a hit (of crack) with or from Militello.
“I was scared of Rich (Kennedy),” said Cypher when asked why she hadn’t said anything. “I didn’t want that to happen to me.”
While Cypher was meeting with Militello, Kennedy called her and told her to hurry up because Umstead had told him someone was coming (to the New Street house), and they had to get out of there.
Cypher said after she got back to New Street (she testified that it took her a while to get back because she was from Butler and not familiar with Franklin, where her mother was living and where she had come to “start over”), Kennedy eventually came out of the house with Baker.
“He was kind of carrying her,” Cypher said. “She (Baker) was beat up, and her hands were now tied in the front of her (earlier while in the laundry room Cypher said Baker’s hands were tied behind her) and her feet were still bound. He put her in the passenger side back seat and told me to drive. I didn’t know where. He said just go to the woods.”
Cypher testified that Baker was asking what was going on.
“(Kennedy) said he was going to clean her (Baker) up and let her go,” Cypher said.
Cypher said she drove until Kennedy told her to stop, and when she got out of the car on what turned out to be Waterworks Road, she saw Kennedy stabbing Baker with a knife.
“She was sitting in the backseat (with the door open) and he was stabbing her on the upper right shoulder,” said Cypher, who stated the stabbing was taking place both from the front and from the back.
Cypher said Kennedy stabbed Baker “multiple” times.
She testified that Kennedy stopped stabbing Baker after he cut himself while stabbing her.
“He dragged her out of the car,” Cypher said.
Cypher then said Kennedy went and found a big rock and dropped the rock on Baker at least twice.
“I was crying,” Cypher said. “I was scared.”
Cypher said Kennedy told her they had to take Baker’s shirt off, and when she was doing that she noticed that Baker’s hands were bound with a white car charger and that she needed to cut the car charger with what she believed to be the same knife Kennedy stabbed Baker with.
“He pushed her down over the hill and then got in the backseat with the rock,” Cypher said.
Cypher then said the couple drove down Waterworks Road a little bit before she stopped the car again, and Kennedy threw the rock in a “watery” area where the “ground was wet.”
From there, the two headed to what is now known to be Pioneer Cemetery, where Cypher testified that Kennedy told her to undress and then he took her clothes and some of his clothes along with what she thought was a blanket from the back of the car and put them somewhere over the hill.
She then said Kennedy saw a gas can sitting outside a house, and took the gas can and told her they needed to go back to where Baker’s body had been dumped.
When they got back to the Waterworks Road area, Cypher said Kennedy got out with the gas can and went over the hillside and was gone “for a few minutes.”
“I seen smoke and I heard it ignite,” Cypher testified.
After Kennedy got back to the car getting into the front passenger seat, the couple drove to Penny McCoy’s house on Hillside Avenue. She said this was possibly around 10:00 a.m. on October 27, 2017.
“We went straight to the bathroom and washed our hands,” said Cypher, who also testified that Kennedy was wearing his Air Jordan sneakers that were gold and white (she identified them when they were shown to her).
Cypher said when the couple left McCoy’s house, they went back over to see Militello at Doug Baker’s house to smoke crack. She said Militello had asked them to come.
According to Cypher, Militello was complaining that Baker wasn’t answering her phone.
“I was afraid to tell him (Militello),” Cypher testified.
Cypher said while she and Kennedy were with Militello, Mark Daniels, who was living 1313 New Street with Umstead, called Kennedy, and Kennedy said he would be over (to New Street).
“He was gone maybe 20 minutes,” Cypher said. “When he came back, he said he went back to clean up blood.”
After Kennedy returned from the New Street residence, Cypher said her and Kennedy went back to McCoy’s and sat on the front porch. She then testified that Kennedy wanted to go back over to “Bill and Mark’s,” so they went back over the New Street home and sat at the kitchen table.
She then said Kennedy wanted to go back to where they had dumped Baker’s body, and when she protested, he reacted.
“He said he was only going to tell me one time – I was in his way,” Cypher said.
Cypher, when asked if Kennedy had any other “sayings,” said she had heard him say: “No face, no case.”
She said when they got back to what she later learned was Waterworks Road, he got the gas can, and she again heard a fire ignite.
“He said she looked bad,” said Cypher, who testified to seeing at least two cars on Waterworks Road this time around.
According to Cypher, the couple abandoned the car in Franklin, although she couldn’t say where, and started to walk back to McCoy’s. When they were nearing 1313 New Street, they saw a lot of activity and tried to avoid it. She said eventually the police approached them and she stopped while Kennedy took off running.
She said that she told police she had last seen Baker around 8:00 a.m.
“I was scared,” Cypher told the jury. “It was a lie.”
White asked her if she told the truth during her interview at the police station that day.
“No, I don’t think I did,” Cypher said. “I was afraid of Rich (Kennedy). He hadn’t been caught yet as far as I knew.”
White then asked Cypher a series of questions with her answering “no” to each one. He asked her if she had participated in the stabbing of Baker; if she had participated in the dropping of the rock on Baker; if she had hit Baker with the frying pan; or if she had helped clean up the blood at 1313 New Street.
He then asked her if the rock she showed police about two months after Baker’s death was the same rock that Kennedy had used.
“I am pretty sure it was the same rock,” Cypher testified.
White then asked Cypher if, during the questioning at the Franklin Police Department on October 27, 2017, into possible October 28, 2017, she thought she was pregnant and if Kennedy thought she was pregnant.
“I believed I was pregnant,” Cypher said. “As it turned out, I was not.”
White then started asking Cypher about her plea deal, and after confirming she received a deal, started asking her another question when defense attorney James Miller objected. After a short conference with Venango County President Judge Oliver Lobaugh, a 10-minute recess was called. After the recess lasted well beyond 10 minutes, the jury was brought back into the courtroom and was sent home for the day around 6:00 p.m. They were told to be back in the Courthouse by 8:45 a.m.
VIDEO OF KENNEDY INTERVIEW FROM OCTOBER 27, 2017 SHOWN
After testimony was delayed over five-and-half hours on Wednesday as the judge and lawyers presumably went over legal matters and motions, the trial started at approximately 2:45 p.m. Eric Rodgers, a Criminal Investigative Assessment Officer with the state police who had been called in October 27, 2017, to help with the interviews of Cypher and Kennedy, was put on the stand.
Rodgers testified that Kennedy was read his Miranda Rights, and a video of Kennedy’s testimony was shown to the jury.
While the video was hard to hear from the gallery, the overall theme of the interview could be summed up in this quote from Kennedy when he was asked if Cypher was telling the truth when she said the couple had left Umstead’s house in a maroon colored car or SUV.
“I was high, so I won’t remember any of that,” Kennedy said in the video.
In the taped interview at the Franklin Police Department, Kennedy over and over again said he couldn’t recall or couldn’t remember when asked various questions by Rodgers and Franklin Police Detective Kevin Saragian.
He did remember stopping at Penny McCoy’s house early in the day with Cypher and that Cypher wasn’t with him the entire day but that he couldn’t answer how long they were apart.
He said when they were apart, he went to buy crack.
Kennedy was asked if he knew Baker but said he didn’t know her.
During his interview with police, Kennedy asked if they could continue the interview “tomorrow” because he was “tired.”
When asked why he washed his hands at McCoy’s, Kennedy said he had a cut on his hand.
“I was cooking at Bill’s but don’t remember what,” Kennedy said. “I was high.”
In his cross-examination, Miller asked Rodgers why he referred to Cypher as both “Amanda” and “Amber” and Rodgers said he had heard both names used.
Miller also asked why Kennedy was in handcuffs and read his Miranda Rights when he was interviewed but Cypher wasn’t.
Rodgers said Cypher was free to go at the time of her interview – he said she was arrested following the interview – while Kennedy was in “custody” while he was being interviewed.
During cross-examination, Rodgers was also asked if when he was interviewing Kennedy if he was receiving text messages from the 1313 New Street scene. Rodgers acknowledged receiving texts but thought they might have been from another state police officer and said he wasn’t sure if they were important.
“What’s important to me may not be important to you,” Rodgers said when explaining why or why not getting texts might have helped him in the interrogation of Kennedy.
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