Deliberations Begin in 'Murdering Minister' Case

Former Texas pastor Matt Baker is accused of drugging and suffocating his wife.

WACO, Texas, Jan. 20, 2010— -- A Waco, Texas, jury began deliberations Wednesday afternoon in the case of what prosecutors call the "murdering minister."

Former Baptist Pastor Matt Baker is accused of first degree murder in the death of his 32-year-old wife Kari. She was found dead in her bedroom April 7, 2006, in what her husband Matt claimed was a suicide.

"20/20" profiled the case during a broadcast nearly two years ago.

Testimony ended Wednesday in the week-long trial and closing arguments were quick and to the point.

Prosecutor Crawford Long told the jury Baker drugged his wife with sleeping pills and then smothered her with a bedroom pillow.

Baker, 38, did not testify, but in an interview with "20/20" -- portions of which were played in open court -- he claimed he left his house just before midnight on the night in question to put gasoline in the car and get a movie to watch with his wife. He said when he returned, the bedroom door was locked, and after breaking in he found his wife nude and not breathing. Baker said he called 911 and began CPR.

An unsigned, typewritten suicide note was found next to a nearly empty bottle of Ambien, a sleeping pill, on the bedside table. The note thanked Matt Baker for being a good father to the couple's two girls, and lamented the loss of a third daughter, Kassidy, to a brain tumor two years before.

"I did not kill my wife. I did not hurt my wife. I loved her," Baker told ABC News in March 2008. "There was never a doubt that I loved her or that she loved me. She had a wonderful smile, great personality. I don't think my love ever stopped for her and it won't."

Police, paramedics and the county justice of the peace initially suspected nothing out of the ordinary, and an autopsy was not done on Kari Baker's body -- a decision which later made it difficult to prosecute because no definitive cause of death was made, and embalming removed any trace evidence.

But prosecutors finally broke a key witness, divorcee Vanessa Bulls -- and her testimony may be all that is needed for a conviction. Bulls is the other woman in the case, and after initially denying any romantic involvement with Baker, she eventually changed her story and confessed to an affair with the preacher and knowledge of his alleged plans to kill his wife.

Divorcee Confesses to Affair With Preacher

In dramatic testimony, Bulls told the jury Baker first approached her in the months before his wife's death. Bulls was 24 and newly divorced.

According to Bulls, Baker asked if she needed counseling after her divorce, and quickly seduced her.

Damaging enough, but Bulls was not finished. She also testified Baker told her he was looking for ways to kill his wife -- from poisoning her milkshake, to tampering with the brakes on her car, to a drive-by shooting. Bulls told the jury that after the murder, Baker said he had promised his wife a wild night of sex, handcuffed her to the bed, put sleeping pills in a cocktail, and then finished her off by putting a pillow over her head. Later she said he told her, "God had forgiven him."

In closing arguments, Baker's noted Texas attorney Guy James Gray attacked Bull's testimony as not credible because she had lied about the case to police originally.

But prosecutors say while Baker wove his "web of lies" to keep himself out of prison and make himself look good, Bulls has no motive to be lying now. Her testimony about an affair and keeping quiet about plans to murder Kari Baker make her look worse, not better.

Prosecutor Susan Shafer, in her closing argument, told the jury that Kari Baker had no motive to commit suicide. She said Kari wanted to live for her surviving daughters, had plans to change jobs and despite previous bouts of depression, was getting better -- only to be murdered by her husband.

Baker maintains his innocence and denies killing his wife.

Visit the "20/20" Web site for more on this story in the coming weeks.

ABC News' Sarah Holmberg and Hae Kim contributed research for this report.