LAWTON, Okla. — Prosecutors have charged a Lawton man in the death of his wife, saying he asphyxiated her and buried her body under a swimming pool liner and used tires in their backyard.
David Lee Baird, 63, is accused of first-degree murder, unlawful removal of a body, unlawful desecration of a body and forging the certificate to a vehicle title. He also is accused of using Claudine Marroquin's food-stamp card, a misdemeanor.
In court Wednesday, Baird pleaded not guilty and told Special District Judge Ken Harris that he would need a court-appointed lawyer. Bond was set at $1 million.
According to police, the 36-year-old Marroquin died around Aug. 31. Investigators said Baird partially buried the body in a plastic bag, then covered it with a swimming pool liner and old tires in an attempt to hide the crime.
Baird was arrested Sept. 12 after police found the body. He could face the death penalty.
Marroquin's sister, Elizabeth, filed a missing person's report on Sept. 10, saying it was out of character for her sister to not have contact with her family for so long, police Capt. Craig Akard said.
Investigators first made a welfare check for Marroquin on Sept. 10, but Baird turned them away, police said. The next day, they visited the house again and saw evidence, including several droplets of blood, that led them to obtain a search warrant. Baird remained under surveillance while he stayed the night at a nearby motel and, once his wife's body was discovered, he was arrested.
Akard said there had been previous allegations of abuse by her husband.
According to the victim's sister, Marroquin had spoken to her for the last time on Aug. 31, the Lawton paper reported.
"I reported her missing because she hadn't contacted nobody; nobody had heard from her and she was supposed to be at my house, but she never showed up," Elizabeth Marroquin said. "My sister wanted me to get justice for her. She cried out for help. I feel guilty because I didn't call police sooner."
"We're talking on the phone, having a conversation, and a domestic situation happened while we were talking," she said. "I heard her say he was dragging her out of the house and then a lot of commotion and the call hung up.
"She called back and said he'd dragged her outside and she was bruised and hurt," she said. "That was the last time I spoke with her."
AP Source: The Lawton Constitution