Ex-cop walks free over traffic-stop killing
A man who as a police officer fatally shot a motorist at a routine traffic stop in Melbourne has been found not guilty of murder.
Timothy Howard Baker, 44, shot Vlado Micetic, 46, three times at point-blank range on August 25, 2013, in inner-city Windsor after pulling Micetic over because his car had stolen numberplates.
During the long-running murder trial, prosecutor Andrew Tinney SC told a Supreme Court jury that Micetic started to struggle when then Leading Senior Constable Baker attempted to handcuff him.
It was alleged Mr Baker pushed Micetic out of sight of the police car’s dashcam before shooting him in the chest, buttock and finger and subsequently planting a flick knife at the scene.
The jury yesterday acquitted Mr Baker after less than five hours of deliberation.
Ian Hill QC, acting for Mr Baker, had told the jury his client was not affected by alcohol or drugs and had no motive to kill Micetic. “We know from everything we can see and hear that his intention was only to effect a lawful arrest, for which purposes he called for assistance from other police,” he said. He said Mr Baker’s behaviour after the shooting was consistent with a person who had been through a traumatic experience.
“You hear it almost immediately, the vomiting, and the numerous police officers have all described him with lips trembling, hands shaking, pale, quiet,” he said.
“Is this the cold, calculated person who’s just committed the most incredible of murders, where with no motive, for no reason, and in some seconds before it happens, determines to shoot a stranger, who he’s never met or knows anything about, to death and then plant a knife that he happened to be carrying on him that no one’s ever seen him with or can connect him with?”
In his 2014 statement to police, which was presented in court, Mr Baker claimed he had acted in self-defence. “I thought I was about to be stabbed,” he wrote.
“I believed I had no other alternative other than to shoot him,” his statement said.
In his closing address, Mr Tinney emphasised that all were equal before the eyes of the law and urged the jury to disregard the difference in background between the accused, a long-serving police officer, and the deceased, who had a criminal background dating back to the 1980s.
Mr Hill said footage of Mr Baker through his shift did not show him with a switch-blade knife similar to that found at the scene. The jury was told Micetic had five knives in his car on the night of his death and kept a sawnoff shotgun at home.