News

Convicted killer Robert Baker says his ex-lover Monica Sementilli had no part in the murder of her husband Fabio

It’s an awkward moment sitting down with a murderer especially when you arrive unannounced.  

Robert Baker, 61, who pleaded no contest last summer to the 2017 Los Angeles murder of famed hair stylist and beauty industry executive Fabio Sementilli, 49, approached the glass that separated us with a “who the hell are you?” look on his face.


Convicted killer of famed hairstylist Fabio Sementilli says victim’s wife is innocent

03:12

As a producer for “48 Hours” who has followed the case since 2017, I made the trip to Los Angeles’ North County Correctional Facility on March 2 to see if Baker would be willing to share information about the brutal crime and, perhaps, his alleged accomplice Monica Sementilli, 52. Monica was the wife of victim Fabio Sementilli, and she was Baker’s lover before they both landed in jail, nearly five months after the crime, accused of conspiracy to commit murder. Their case is profiled by “48 Hours” contributor Michelle Miller in “The Monica Sementilli Affair,” airing Saturday, March 9 at 10/9c on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

Baker seemed healthy and younger looking than the bedraggled figure I remembered from court. He had the fit and muscular appearance one might expect from a racquetball coach at the LA Fitness where he met Monica Sementilli, a mother of two teenage daughters living in a nearby, upscale L.A. neighborhood. 

Once I introduced myself, it was Baker who offered the initial icebreaker to our conversation, expressing surprise at the effort I had taken to find him in that remote jail in the mountain town of Castaic. Getting there can be a one-hour drive from L.A., and visitors are only permitted on Saturdays and Sundays. There are two separate intake areas to pass through, which involves a bus ride – not to mention security, where a reporter must leave pens, recorders and phones behind.

So, the effort had paid off, it got the conversation started, and earned me credibility for finding him. These meetings can be difficult. The main issue is we are being recorded and the cops and prosecutors who put Baker away and have plans to put his former lover away listen, and presumably can and will use anything he says against him – or her – if possible. 

Nevertheless, our conversation moved along.  Baker had an easy wide smile with a gap between his front teeth. The phone receivers we each used had short cords so that kept us face to face, staring straight into each other’s eyes, from about 20 inches apart through safety glass.  

Despite his reluctance to address most issues, deferring answers to “when this is all over” (meaning the end of Monica’s upcoming trial which starts April 2), he was resolute about one point: Monica was not involved in the murder, as she is charged.  

“Monica did not know.  She didn’t know s***.  If she did find out, I would have been in here (jail) a lot sooner,” he said. His claim was a bombshell.  Monica, who has already spent nearly six years in jail, did not conspire with him to kill her husband Fabio, he said. 

Despite what the prosecutor characterizes as overwhelming circumstantial evidence against Monica, there is no smoking gun connecting her to the conspiracy.  A fact her attorneys are banking on for a not guilty verdict at trial.

Why did Robert Baker plead guilty without a deal?

I asked about his decision to plead no contest despite not getting a deal and accepting the sentence of life without parole. With his blood and DNA at the crime scene, having cut his finger stabbing Fabio to death, Baker had little chance to beat the charges. But even if his chances at trial were one in a million, most people take that shot. “Why not you?” I asked him.

baker-bandage.jpg
Rob Baker was photographed at the wake held for Fabio Sementilli at the hairdresser’s home. A bandage can be seen on the index finger of Baker’s left hand [inset]. 

48 Hours


He seemed resigned to his fate but explained “due process” was the reason. Much of our conversation shifted to facial expressions, as he was clearly reluctant to be recorded saying certain things. I found myself unconsciously following his lead — and at that moment, I gave him an exaggerated “What does that mean?” face.

“You think there’s due process?” he responded to my look, as if I was the naivest person on earth to have faith in the criminal justice system that snared him.  The phrase due process would serve as his unsatisfying default answer for many substantive questions. 

I asked if his plea was “a gift” for Monica, which he immediately scoffed at, seemingly taking offense, as if going down for life could be a gift.  

I pointed out, what he knew well, that for more than five years Monica’s attorneys had tried many times to sever the cases against the lovebirds into separate trials, but the judge denied them at each turn.  So, I noted when Baker pleaded no contest, voilà, thanks to his decision, Monica got what she had been asking for, to stand trial alone.  He remained dismissive.

I asked if he had met Monica in a Target parking lot two miles from the Sementilli home in the hours before the murder, as the prosecutor alleged, presumably to get the ‘coast is clear’ message from Monica to attack and kill Fabio.

That allegation prompted an eyes wide open, lips pursed, “no way” expression as he shook his head back and forth. It never happened, according to him.

He complained about that and other prosecution evidence. The fact that he and Monica used the encrypted apps WhatsApp and Viber to communicate between themselves, or that Monica shared her family’s home security system’s private log-in credentials with him. So what? he asked.

I pointed out that while millions of Americans did use encrypted apps and accessed home security systems remotely, an objective person, say, a juror, might well find it suspicious that the lovers shared those prior to Fabio’s murder. Baker remained indignant that those facts could be used against him or Monica.

What about his Facebook messages with a friend where Baker said, “No not yet living with her [Monica] but it’s coming soon.”  Once again, Baker shrugged that off, “just a conversation between friends.” That explanation put the incredulous “Huh?” look on my face. 

“Just a conversation between friends,” he repeated with a shrug and a “that’s all” expression. He just did not seem to get the prosecutor’s point that a conversation between friends is precisely what was so revealing, and potentially incriminating  particularly because he murdered Fabio soon after.

Robert Baker’s sentence: Life without parole

I turned the conversation to his sentencing hearing where numerous family members assailed him for taking away Fabio, a man so loved by two daughters, a son, two sisters and an immense family and circle of friends.  

Robert Baker at his sentencing.
Robert Baker at his sentencing.

KCBS/Pool


“Heartbreaking,” he repeated a few times, “heartbreaking.” Baker had cried during the hearing, perhaps when Monica’s daughters testified. What they may have seen as crocodile tears decidedly did not make an impression on the devastated family members and friends.

I asked if that emotion at the hearing meant he wanted to apologize to Fabio’s family. He offered nothing in reply just repeating, “heartbreaking.”  “I’m not the monster,” he said, his voice trailing off before I could hear a finished thought. 

At that point, I had to interject, explaining that I had seen the autopsy report. Fabio had been viciously stabbed seven times, three separate wounds each deemed fatal as vital arteries were targeted. A beloved father, brother, son, friend, ambushed and slaughtered without a chance to defend himself.

Fabio Sementilli
Fabio Sementilli

Instagram


“I know, I know,” he said, dropping his head without meeting my eyes. He said only very recently had he seen the crime scene photos of Fabio – “the gore and violence of the murder juxtaposed with the backdrop: Fabio’s chair, where his family remembers him smoking cigars, “Big Daddy” baseball cap on his head, conducting business, and enjoying life in his favorite domain – the back patio.  

It was Fabio’s then 16-year-old daughter who would find his body – too heavy as deadweight for her to even turn him over.  

Will Robert Baker testify at Monica Sementilli’s trial?     

Earlier in our conversation, Baker conceded that he had recently been meeting with Monica’s defense attorneys. Ostensibly, they are sizing Baker up for the possibility that he might testify at Monica’s trial and drop that aforementioned bombshell on the jurors: that Monica was not involved, that she had no knowledge, that she never suspected her lover as the killer.

Baker told me he does not know whether he will testify or not.

I asked if he wanted to testify “for her?” For the second time, he took offense. “I would not do it for her,” he said. “It would be to tell the truth.”

The idea that he might testify was heralded by her defense lawyers as a case closer.

“We are confident that Robert Baker’s guilty plea and his truthful testimony will finally establish once and for all that Monica Sementilli had nothing to do with the planning or the murder of Fabio Sementilli, her husband,” said veteran L.A. criminal defense attorney Leonard Levine after Baker’s sentencing.

Legal experts that “48 Hours” spoke to were more circumspect. They acknowledged the power of that potential testimony. They also pointed out a jury might be skeptical after a withering cross-examination and an exploration of Baker’s background. Baker’s testimony represented a risky proposition, they reasoned — likely too risky. 

Background was a question Baker raised. I responded that I was aware of his acting experience in the industry — the porn industry. Baker nodded his approval at my research. It seemed odd, as if — like so many people that reporters deal with in Hollywood — Baker was asserting, ‘I was an actor you know,’ rather than displaying unease with the courtroom optics of pornography.

Our time was limited, so I chose not to raise his criminal background, a conviction for having sex with a minor, his teenage stepdaughter, who would marry him after his release from prison in the 1990s and enter the pornography world, doing movies with Baker. It seemed to be a tangent.

Monica Sementilli and Robert Baker
Monica Sementilli and Robert Baker in Las Vegas.

Los Angeles County Superior Court


Rather, I wanted to discuss the prosecution’s claim that Monica was leading a double life after Fabio’s murder.  Prosecutors alleged she was expressing an outward appearance through social media that she was deeply in grief over the loss of her husband, while police simultaneously, surreptitiously documented a secretive, fun-filled romance with Baker — the killer.  

Baker chose not to shrug off this accusation, insisting that Monica’s grief over Fabio’s murder was intense and sincere. As validation, he offered that the two were no longer in contact and that she cursed him with her parting words, “Murderer motherf*****,” yelled across a hallway in lock up. He was alleging that once Monica learned Baker was the killer, she dropped him, but he did not say when.

Monica Sementilli letter
A letter from Monica Sementilli sent to Robert Baker in jail signed, “Love, your wifey … Monica Baker ’til death”

Los Angeles County Superior Court


Another bombshell, the claim that their relationship was now over, as court documents had revealed 2017 love letters signed “your wifey… Monica Baker ’til death,” sent in jail. When a sheriff’s deputy suddenly appeared, Baker turned and left, ending our interview abruptly.   

Outside I waited for my bus next to a sign that read “Beware of Mountain Lions, Do Not Leave Children Unattended.”  Relishing the fresh, crisp, mountain air, I reflected on a lively, yet guarded, conversation that yielded glimpses of candor whether intentional or inadvertent from a murderer.  

Source link