Elisa Baker nearly fainted in court Monday, as prosecutors tried to schedule her for trial on charges that she obstructed justice by writing a phony ransom note to throw off the search for Baker's stepdaughter, Zahra.
Baker's attorney, Scott Reilly, poured her a cup of water, and court bailiffs helped Baker to a seat. It was unclear Monday what the problem was, but she told her attorney she felt better after sitting.
Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson went on to deny the Catawba County prosecutor's attempt to set her obstruction trial for May.
Instead, he delayed hearings on the obstruction charge and a second-degree murder charge against Baker until June 27.
Elisa Baker, 42, is charged in the death of Zahra, the 10-year-old Hickory girl whose story and photos captured hearts and whose body was found dismembered in Caldwell County.
Reilly accused prosecutors with parading his client into the courtroom for the media. He told the judge he plans to seek a change of venue for the trial. He doesn't believe Baker can get a fair trial in Catawba County, he said, because of intense publicity surrounding the case.
"I don't know of a county in North Carolina where you can find 10 people who have not heard of the case and haven't formed an opinion of her guilt or innocence," he told the Observer after the hearing.
Authorities allege Zahra was killed on Sept. 24, more than two weeks before her father placed an emergency call to authorities on Oct. 9, saying Zahra was missing. It wasn't until Nov. 12 that police announced they had recovered enough of her remains to declare the girl dead. Elisa Baker has told family members she found her stepdaughter dead after an illness.
District Attorney Jay Gaither said it's up to the judge to decide whether a change of venue is appropriate, but added he believes the people of Catawba County can put aside any preconceived notions and give her a fair trial.
After Monday's hearing, bailiffs took Baker to be checked by medical personnel. Reilly said he thought she might have had a drop in blood pressure, or low blood sugar.