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Elisa Baker's drug trial postponed

Elisa Baker, who pleaded guilty last month to murdering her 10-year-old stepdaughter Zahra, won't be tried next month on federal drug charges.

Baker's attorneys asked that her trial be postponed. They say they need more time to prepare her defense, and said that prosecutors don't object to the delay.

U.S. District Judge Richard Voorhees has agreed to postpone the case until the January criminal term.

Baker was indicted in May and charged with drug trafficking. She's accused of distributing a mixture that contained painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone, and the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam.

It's the third time Baker's attorneys have sought to delay the trial. Each time, they've said they need more time to review the evidence. Voorhees had also granted the two previous requests to postpone the trial.

In their latest motion to delay the trial, Baker's attorneys say reviewing the evidence, including numerous videos and recordings, is "taking more time than expected."

"Most of the witnesses live in Catawba and Caldwell counties, and counsel require additional time to fully investigate the allegations and witnesses," the defense attorneys wrote. "The ends of justice served by a continuance of the trial date would outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial."

Baker, 43, is now being held in the Mecklenburg County jail while she awaits trial on the federal drug charges. She's charged with seven drug offenses, each punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Baker was sentenced to 15 to 18 years in prison in September after pleading guilty to second-degree murder, obstruction of justice, bigamy, four counts of obtaining property through false pretenses and two counts of identity theft.

Zahra's freckled face and winning smile captured hearts from North Carolina to Australia, where she was born. She had survived two bouts with cancer that left her without one leg and with a hearing impairment.

Zahra was reported missing last October, triggering a massive search. But she was dead. Her body had been dismembered, and the body parts were found scattered across rural Caldwell County.

How Zahra died remains a mystery. "Only one person knows," Catawba County District Attorney Jay Gaither told reporters after Baker was sentenced for murdering Zahra. "And she's not talking."

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