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Thomas Fox found guilty in Lori Baker murder case
A jury has found Thomas Fox guilty of killing Lori Christine Baker in her Oakdale apartment.
The jury returned the verdict after about two hours of deliberation on the afternoon of Friday, May 31. That same day, Fox was sentenced by Washington County District Court Judge Gregory Galler to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Baker was a 39-year-old nanny who had worked for the same family for nine years. When she didn't show up for work on the morning of Dec. 28, 2011, her employer went to her apartment to check on her and found her body under a blanket on the bedroom floor, surrounded by blood.
Fox and Baker had reportedly been dating in the months prior to her murder.
Fox, 46, was arrested on a parole violation the next day at a Greyhound bus station in Minneapolis with a ticket to leave the state. He was charged in April 2012 with first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree intentional murder during the course of an aggravated robbery.
Opening arguments were heard Friday, May 24 in Washington County District Court. Over the next week, the jury heard testimony from witnesses for both the prosecution and defense.
The prosecution alleged Fox stabbed Baker at least 48 times on the night of Dec. 27, 2011, then took her car and made numerous withdrawals on her debit card at several locations throughout the Twin Cities.
Fox's defense team said Fox was not in the apartment when Baker was murdered, and only returned to the apartment later to find her already dead.
Closing arguments in the case ended shortly before 2:30 p.m. on May 31.
In her closing statement, defense attorney Virginia Murphrey argued that Fox was guilty of using poor judgment, but not murder.
Fox, she said, did not call police after returning to the apartment and finding Baker dead because he feared he would be implicated in the crime. Instead, Murphrey said, Fox used Baker's debit card to withdraw cash to pay for drugs and prostitutes in an attempt to find a mental escape from the stress of the situation.
Murphrey also argued that Fox had been profiled because of his race, and said police zeroed in on him as a suspect without doing enough to investigate other people in the apartment complex and without following up on Fox's statements that suggested he hadn't been in the apartment at the time of the murder.
"They wanted to believe what they wanted to believe and they wanted to investigate what they wanted to investigate," Murphrey said.
In his closing argument, County Attorney Pete Orput said Fox's statements to police in the days after Baker's body was found were filled with inconsistencies.
Orput also pointed to a cut that Fox had on his hand when he was arrested in Minneapolis -- something he said was a likely result of stabbing Baker repeatedly.
Orput vehemently denied that Fox was racially profiled, and said though there are no direct witnesses to the murder, the evidence suggests Fox killed Baker and then disposed of a knife and his bloody clothes.
"We've got a ton of evidence," Orput told the jury.
Alex Holmquist can be reached at email@example.com or 651-748-7822.