Suspect in Makiki woman’s 2013 murder changes plea to guilty

Vernon Baker

Nearly four years after a Makiki woman’s body was found, a man has admitted to her murder.

Mary Beth San Juan, 56, was found stabbed to death on July 23, 2013.

Her body had been wrapped in carpet and left in the driveway of her home on Punahou Street.

Days later, police arrested a suspect, Vernon Baker. He was indicted for and initially pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, two counts of third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, and one count of drug paraphernalia.

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, he changed that plea to guilty on all counts. According to court documents, both sides reached a plea agreement.

Baker is scheduled to be sentenced on April 26.

Police described him as an acquaintance of San Juan’s, and a close friend previously told KHON2, “I think in the earlier years, he was someone she took under her wing then later, it was more sporadic, that he would contact her when he needed something.”

According to court documents, the weekend before her death, San Juan was having dinner with her ex-husband when Baker called her to ask for a ride home. San Juan’s ex-husband said Baker appeared agitated during the car ride.

Police later received a tip from a witness who said Baker was in the back of San Juan’s silver Mercedes-Benz on the same day her body was discovered. The vehicle was parked in San Juan’s driveway with the trunk lid open.

Baker also allegedly tried to get a homeless man to sell San Juan’s laptop.


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