WARSAW — David Baker, estate and charitable planning lawyer and fundraising specialist with non-profits, now living in Los Angeles, Calif., was the sole witness this morning Thursday, Aug. 3, in the trial of Mark Soto. The trial is being held in Kosciusko Circuit Court with special Judge Stephen Bowers presiding.
Baker, a prosecution witness, testified his involvement into the Kevin Bronson story was through a friend who knew Dr. Mark Soto. He testified how Soto had communicated with him via email and arranged meetings at Golden Corral in Warsaw, with Bronson, while Bronson was still incarcerated. Numerous emails between Soto and Baker, along with several from Bronson, were admitted into evidence.
During Baker’s testimony he stated in numerous conversations he was told “Heaven” or “Sky Blue,” alleged leaders with the Aryan Brotherhood, were watching and why they wanted things done. Additionally he testified to the story he was told, by Bronson, and many times thereafter, of Bronson’s first day in a federal prison and the grotesque happenings that took place. He provided the jury with explicit details. He testified he was told these things would happen to his family as he watched, before they happened to him.
The emails admitted into evidence relayed the constant pressure Baker was put under to get things done, mostly sent to him by Soto. He also testified, after the first meeting, he did not want to participate, however to keep his family and others safe, he continued for 4 1/2 years. In one email, Baker read where Soto stated the plan to get Bronson out of jail was to have him bond out, with the prosecutor advising to have him leave the state, miss his court hearing and he would only issue a state extraditable warrant.
Later during cross examination by Scott Lennox, defense counsel, Baker testified that after a time he began to doubt the truth to what he was being told and would test what was being said by delaying any response.
During Baker’s testimony he stated whenever he had questions relating to the truth in what Bronson was saying, he’d turn to Soto for confirmation, which he received. He was also told Soto had talked to “Heaven” and “Sky Blue,” and had direct access.
Testimony also was given how on one of three trips to California with Bronson, Bronson grabbed Baker’s arm, spun him around and stated “you need to make things happen … you know what will happen.”
Baker testified numerous times he continued to participate “to keep everybody alive in my home.” His testimony also included how after testing the alleged threats, and learning none of the threats had actually occurred to others, even after being told so, he told Soto he was finished and would hold him personally responsible for any harm to him or his family.
During the cross examination he called Bronson a narcissist and testified he had been told by Bronson one of the production companies was owned by the Aryan Brotherhood. It was after he checked into the company, finding the information to be false, he was comfortable to extricate itself from Soto and Bronson.
He also testified he believed what Soto had told him, as he was from a Bible facility and what he was saying was legit. Baker also stated he stayed involved because even if there was 1 percent chance of something happening to his family, he didn’t want to take a chance. If would have just been him being threatened, he would have never let it go that long.