Punahou Street murder suspect pleads not guilty, new evidence revealed

Punahou Street murder suspect pleads not guilty, new evidence revealed
Published: Jul. 29, 2013 at 7:44 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 31, 2013 at 2:41 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)

HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now)- Vernon Baker pleaded not guilty today to the murder of Honolulu realtor Mary Beth San Juan, but the evidence against him is piling up.

As suspected killer Vernon Baker appeared in court for the first time, we learned what tips put police on his trail.

The first was an encounter between the accused, the victim, and her ex-husband the week before her murder.


According to court documents, while the divorcees were at dinner on July 14th, San Juan got a call from an acquaintance needing a ride. They picked up an 'agitated' man her ex believed to be named 'Vernon Baker.'


A witness account places Baker at the victim's Punahou Street home in her Mercedes on July 23rd. That's the same day 56 year old San Juan was discovered stabbed to death in her driveway, wrapped in carpet.

Police drew a sketch based on the witness description that matched the photo from Baker's facebook page.


Other clues outlined in those documents that connect Baker to the crime-- the victim's wallet found in the dumpster behind the Waikiki hostel where he was staying.

Bank surveillance showing a man in disguise, matching Baker's physical traits, in San Juan's clothes, using her ATM card in Manoa.

The hunt ended when police spotted Baker in Waikiki on Saturday. The arresting officer says surveillance caught him handing over a backpack that turned out to have San Juan's computer inside.

The victim's sisters from Montana were in court for Baker's brief appearance. It ended with a warning from the Judge not to talk about the case with anyone other than his Attorney.

Baker's bail was set at 200-thousand dollars. He'll be back in court for his preliminary hearing on Thursday afternoon.

(The following is from the court affidavit)

  • The paramedics were notified and responded to the scene. The body found in the driveway was determined to be deceased.

  • That the body in the carpet matched the physical description of Mary Beth.

  • The residence at 1224 Punahou Street was processed for evidence after investigation of the interior of the residence revealed signs of a search and items taken.

  • Upon police arrival at the scene, the reporting person also informed police that Mary Beth had a Silver Mercedes Benz vehicle that was missing.

  • Checks on the HPD computer system showed that Mary Beth had a Silver Mercedes-Benz registered to her. The Mercedes Benz was bearing State of Hawaii license plate RYU-850. An All Points Bulletin was initiated on the missing vehicle.

  • On July 24, 2013, the Silver Mercedes Benz was located parked near Kapiolani Park.

  • The Mercedes was towed to the Alapai Station for further processing. At the Alapai station, the Mercedes was processed by an evidence specialist for additional evidence.

  • The body found on July 23, 2013, was positively identified as Mary Beth via fingerprint identification.
  • An autopsy was performed on Mary Beth on July 24, 2013, by City and County of Honolulu Medical Examiner, Dr. Masahiko Kobayashi. Dr. Kobayashi stated that the cause of death in this case was multiple stab wounds and the manner of death was homicide.

  • The reporting person related to an investigating detective that on the weekend of July 13/14, 2013, while he and Mary Beth were having dinner, a male called Mary Beth on her cellular phone. The reporting person related that Mary Beth asked him for a ride to where he was staying and that they drove him home. The reporting person related that the male appeared agitated during the car ride and that he believed that the name of the male that he drove home on 07-14-13 was John Vernon BAKER or Vernon Lux BAKER (hereinafter BAKER)

  • That on 07-25-13, a wallet was found in a dumpster at 2556 Lemon Road in Waikiki and that the wallet recovered was subsequently determined to belong to Mary Beth SAN JUAN and recovered as evidence.

  • That the manager of the hostel where the wallet was recovered provided a copy of the guest list at the Hokondo Waikiki Beachside Hostel. A review of the guest list showed that a BAKER was a guest at the Hokondo Waikiki Hostel on 07-25-13.

  • On 07-26-13, Crime Stoppers received a call from a witness who related that on 07-23- 13, at about 1330 hours, she observed a Caucasian male in the back of a silver Mercedes BeJ!Z that had its trunk lid open. The Mercedes Benz was parked in the driveway of 1224 Punahou Street.

  • A composite sketch was done by Honolulu Police Department artist, Chun YEE.

  • An investigation of online social media sites revealed a photograph from the online Facebook account of Vernon Lux Baker. The photograph matched the composite sketch that was obtained from Brown's description.

  • That Vernon Lux Baker is friends with a Mary Beth San Juan on Facebook.

  • On 07-26-13, the witness who saw a Caucasian male standing behind a parked silver Mercedes at 1224 Punahou Street was presented with a photographic lineup which consisted of a photograph of BAKER along with five other photographs of males bearing similar physical features.

  • On 07-26-13, the witness positively identified the male depicted in photograph #5 as the same person she saw behind of the Mercedes Benz parked in the driveway of 1224 Punahou Street on 07-23-13. Photograph #5 depicted a photograph of BAKER.
  • On 07-26-13, the reporting person was presented with a photographic lineup a photographic lineup which consisted of a photograph of BAKER along with five other photographs of males bearing similar physical features.

  • On 07-26-13, the reporting person positively identified the male depicted in photograph #5 as being the same male that he and Mary Beth drove home on 07-14-13. Photograph #5 depicted Vernon John Baker.
  • That a check of the Hawaii Driver's License System revealed a license for Vernon John Baker, date of birth 03-21-1972 and that the Hawaii Driver's License photograph was similar to the Facebook photograph of Vernon Lux Baker.

  • On 07-27-13, while conducting police surveillance in Waikiki, a male who fit the same physical description of BAKER was observed walking from the Lemon Rd. area towards Waikiki Beach. The male was carrying a black/brown backpack and several laptop type bags. The male eventually sat down in the pavilion area of the beach at Kalakaua Avenue and Liliuokalani Avenue.

  • The male was observed speaking with a Caucasian male, wearing a.green shirt, while sitting at the table area of the pavilion. Shortly thereafter, the Caucasian male wearing a green shirt stood up and began to walk in the Kokohead direction on Kalakaua Avenue.

  • BAKER left the pavilion area and began to walk in the Mauka direction. At that time, BAKER did not appear to have the black/brown backpack on his person.

  • On 07-27-13 / 1345 hours, a call was received by Police Dispatch from a female who stated that she had just received a computer that belonged to Mary Beth SAN JUAN from a homeless male. Through further discussion, it was determined that the homeless male was the same Caucasian male who had been sitting with BAKER at the pavilion area. The male was interviewed and stated that he had received the bag from BAKER at the beach pavilion and that it contained a laptop computer. The Caucasian male related that BAK.ER asked him to sell the computer for money.

  • While the above was occurring, BAKER was observed catching the bus to the Ala Moana Shopping Center where he was observed entering the bathrooms at the Makai Marketplace.
  • The information regarding the laptop computer was passed to the police surveillance team and when BAKER exited the restrooms, he was approached by your affiant and Ofc Thomas CHANG and he verbally identified himself as Vernon John BAKER.

  • On 07-27-13/1400 hours, HPD Strategic Enforcement Detail Ofc. Thomas CHANG arrested BAKER for the offense of Murder in the Second Degree under 13-267747 without incident.


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Grisly details emerge in Punahou Street murder investigation

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