Mark Norwood walked into court Tuesday morning showing no sign of any anxiety as his murder trial got underway. Before he sat down he gave a brief nod and smile to his mother and two siblings. They came to court still believing in his innocence.
"I think they needed a scapegoat I think they needed a fall guy," said Norwood's sister Connie Hoff.
The man the jury saw in court now looked much different from the picture of Mark Norwood from 30 years ago that prosecutors flashed on a screen in the courtroom. He is accused of murdering Debra Baker in 1988. In opening statements prosecutor Gary Cobb told the jury DNA evidence -hair from the crime scene -links Norwood to the murder.
“It’s the type of DNA from a source that there is no other way, that source, from being in that home, other than when she was killed. The person was in her home up to no good," said Cobb.
Norwood's sister does not hold the same opinion about the DNA.
"I think that was just a little piece of weak evidence, circumstantial. It’s not solid facts," said Hoff.
Tuesday, Debra Baker’s family gathered together outside of the courtroom. They embraced each other in anticipation of learning more about the crime that took Baker's life.
"It's been a very long time coming ... waiting for a very long time, especially the past five years have been difficult, it's been an evolution of the motions, we're grateful for everyone that's been involved ... prosecution, we're just grateful to be here," said Baker's daughter Caitlin.
Testimony began with the jury being shown how investigators believe the person who killed baker jumped over her back yard fence, and got into her home through a sliding glass door.
Norwood, at the time, lived a few blocks away from Baker. For prosecutors - a statement from a neighbor about what she saw the night of the murder adds to the strong circumstantial evidence against Norwood.
"Neighbor looks up, and sees someone tall, thin, walking west bound, going up the street, which happens to be the same direction the person, who would be walking to Mark Norwood's house on Justin Ln, would be walking if they were leaving Debra Baker's house heading home," said Cobb.
Baker at the time was the mother of two and had recently separated from her husband.
While friends say the break up wasn’t bitter - Norwood's defense team may try to use the broken marriage to raise doubts about the prosecution's case.
“What Mr. Cobb just told you, that’s not evidence, that’s his expectation of what he hopes to show," said Urrutia.
The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.
Among those to attend the first day of testimony Tuesday was Michael Morton. He was wrongfully convicted for the murder of his wife in 1986, but was released from prison after DNA evidence linked Mark Norwood to the murder. Norwood was convicted in 2013 for that crime and sentenced to life in prison.