Columbia man accused of killing 8-month-old speaks about home life

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COLUMBIA - The man accused of killing his girlfriend's 8-month-old daughter took the stand Thursday to talk about his home life in day three of the murder trial. 

Cody Baker, 33, faces second-degree murder charges for the death of his girlfriend Anna Steele's daughter Finley in Steele's Columbia home in 2014. Court documents said Steele found the child was not breathing and called 911. An autopsy later revealed Finley had evidence of "massive" blunt force trauma and being shaken.Baker, Steele testify Thursday

Thursday afternoon featured the defense's first witness with testimony from Anna Steele. The testified she saw Baker give Finley CPR. Steele openly admitted she is partially responsible for her daughter's death because she allowed Baker around the child, even though there were suspicious events after he moved in, including the rug burn on the back of her head, a bruise on the baby's arm as well as a bruise across the bridge of her nose. Steele confirmed Baker would place a pillow around the baby's head in the crib and then place a blanket, or several blankets over the pillow covering the baby's head and body. She did not elaborate on why this was done.

She also confirmed that Baker was manipulative and did not support her at all financially. The defense tried to present alternative reasons for the injuries, but prosecutors got Steele to say no injuries occurred to the baby before Baker moved in.

Even though Steele does admit she let her daughter down, repeatedly she claimed she would never directly harm her child.

Steele's statement to police said she had noticed a pattern of behavior from Finley since Baker moved in with her earlier in 2014 and said she noticed Baker being abusive to the child. The prosecution claimed Steele was asleep the night that Finley died.

Earlier Thursday, prosecutors called Baker to the stand. His testimony lasted several hours. Baker testified he met Steele while the pair worked at Glenn's Cafe. He said he moved into Steele's Columbia home. The defense showed the jury a floor plan and photos of the rooms in the home's basement. The prosecution said Baker manipulated Steele into thinking he loved her. On the stand, Baker admitted he entertained the idea of dating other people.

The prosecution also said Baker focused on himself when talking to police during the investigation. Prosecution said Baker kept telling police "that was the most difficult time of my life" and "you don't know how much I went through."

The prosecution also said Baker mentioned Steele felt "couped up" staying with Finley. The prosecutor asked if Baker was trying to say Steele killed Finley, and Baker said he's trying to say no one killed her.

The St. Louis County Medical Examiner Mary Case also took the stand Thursday morning to explain the severity of the wounds found on Finley's body. She said the child suffered significant bruising on her chin and face. Case began her expert testimony Wednesday.

Case described injuries to Finley's head as "very significant" and said she suffered a large-area skull fracture from impact. Case said Wednesday that abusive head trauma in a young child usually means it was inflicted by someone else, and it usually happens behind closed doors.

Baker's second day in court

Prosecutors began calling witnesses Wednesday. Columbia Police Officers Joel Mueller and Lane Nelson confirmed crime scene photos and bloody clothes taken from the scene as evidence. Mueller was the first officer to arrive on at the house back on Feb. 28, 2014. A crime lab expert confirmed the DNA and blood found on the child's clothing. 

Columbia Police Department detective Alan Mitchell testified about the interrogation video of Baker. He said Baker was polite and patient during the first interview but grew more and more agitated during the second interview.

Opening statements on Tuesday 

After jury selection Tuesday morning, prosecutors said Baker suffered from insomnia, needed sleep and was disgruntled about Finley waking him up.

Steele's statement to police said she had noticed a pattern of behavior from Finley since Baker moved in with her earlier in 2014 and said she noticed Baker being abusive to the child.The prosecution claimed Steele was asleep the night that Finley died. 

The defense said Tuesday it plans to reveal holes in the prosecutions story line. The defense team said it has texts exchanged between Steele and her mother, meaning she couldn't be asleep when she claimed to be.

Both Steele and Baker face charges in connection to the baby's death. Prosecutors downgraded charges for Steele in July to abuse or neglect of a child and endangering the welfare of a child. She no longer faces murder charges. 

[Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest information available from court.]

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