30 year old home burglaries linked to Mark Norwood

The bulk of the testimony came for those in a group that gathered Wednesday morning outside of the 390th District Court. They were former neighbors who haven’t seen each other in almost 30 years. They were called to the Travis County Justice Center not just because they lived close to Debra Baker  but because they have something else in common, according to prosecutors, Mark Norwood.

"We consider ourselves very lucky,” said Jana Monroe.

Monroe and her sister Tracie once lived together in a Crestview neighborhood duplex in North Austin.

Wednesday, Jana testified about returning home in 1987 and realizing someone had broken in. "I just ran out screaming and yelling and at that time there was an officer that was coming around onto Brentwood and I was screaming and yelling and he stopped and it was Officer Guthrie an officer said is something dead in your place? And I said no, no, I think I've been robbed, I've been robbed."

The Monroe sisters told the jury about how they later spotted their stolen property a few blocks away at a yard sell at Mark Norwood's home. While their tip lead to his arrest, he didn’t stay in jail very long.

"And he was out on bond from our stuff is when he killed Debra Baker … He came back to our house after he was bonded out from our burglary and he knew we were the ones that did it,” said Tracie Monroe.

Prosecutors were allowed to bring up Norwood's criminal past in an attempt to show those cases were similar to the break in at Debra Baker's home a year later. Entry was typically through a back door or window and the crimes were described as a shopping spree.

Mark Norwood is charged with the murder of Debra Baker in 1988.

Investigators believe a VCR was taken from her home after she was killed. Bennett Long was called by prosecutors in an attempt to show a criminal pattern. Long testified about the break in at his house in 1987 and what he later saw after going to Norwood's home to retrieve his property.

"Did you notice any VCRs in the home when you were there?"

"I noticed numerous amounts of electronic devices stereo systems, VCRs a large category of electronic devices, yes,” said Long.

For the burglary victims, it was shock when decades later they would hear Norwood’s name again. This time for the 1986 murder of Christine Morton in Williamson County, followed by Baker's murder indictment.

"I went 'Oh my god,' I think I slept with lights on for a month after that,” said Tracie Monroe.

Late Wednesday, the jury also got the first look at sheets from Debra Bakers bed and a towel that investigators say helped lead them to Mark Norwood. A DNA analyst testified about the hair recovered and how it was tested years later. Investigators claim the critical link to Norwood is allegedly from at least one hair follicle.

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