CRIME

Ronald Cloud, suspect in 1980s murder, appears in court

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WARRENTON, Va. (AP/ABC7) - A cold case murder suspect appeared in court Tuesday for the first time in Fauquier County, Va.

Wearing a yellow jumpsuit and struggling to walk, Ronald Cloud heads into court. He is charged with the shooting death of 30-year-old Brad Baker in Fauquier County on New Year's Eve in 1980.

Baker was the manager of Kinloch Farm, an estate owned by relatives of Stephen Currier of the famed Currier and Ives prints and banker and philanthropist Andrew Mellon.

During the hearing Tuesday, James Allen testified that while working at the Kinloch Farm, he was fired by Baker because his wife was causing problems. Later in the day, Allen’s daughter, Coleen Allen-Holland, says she overheard Allen’s wife on the phone with Cloud saying, “Mr. Baker needs to be taken care of.”

Cloud’s brother, Ernest Cloud, then testified that his brother asked him to drive from West Virginia to deal with the issue. Ernest, who was armed with a 38 revolver, and Ronald, armed with a sawed-off shotgun, approached Baker’s home on the farm where a scuffle and gun shots followed.

Baker died from a shot to the head and groin.

Cloud says he also fired shots, but did not tell authorities what happened until 2012.

“Brad Baker’s family needs closure,” he said last year. “I can’t go on living this life. It has been a nightmare.”

A Fauquier investigator testified that during his 2012 interview with Cloud, who was already in prison in West Virginia for kidnapping and sexual assault, Cloud admitted about Baker, saying, “He threatened my mother and no one threatens my mother. That’s why he died.”

Cloud spoke loud but audibly to his attorney during the hearing and gave a cheerful "thank you" to the judge after the hearing. The judge decided there is more than enough evidence to send the case to a grand jury next month, one step closer to a trial.

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