Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Man who shot Chilean students found competent to stand trial

2010-08-03 14:03:12

DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Dannie Baker, who is charged with killing two Chilean students and wounding three others more than a year ago, has been deemed competent to stand trial.

Public defender Lenny Platteborze told Walton County Circuit Judge Kelvin Wells on Tuesday that psychologists have said that Baker, 61, can go to trial.

“Dr. (James) Larsen has reviewed Florida State Hospital’s report and agrees he was extremely delusional at the time of the shooting, including believing he was the president of the United States and he was speaking directly to God,” Platteborze told Wells. “The state hospital ruled that his competency is very fragile and Dr. Larsen agrees with that as well.

“At this point, however, he is competent to proceed.”

Assistant State Attorney Bobby Elmore, who is prosecuting the case, asked Wells to review Larsen’s findings and rule on whether to go to trial.

Wells said he will review Larsen’s report and scheduled a pre-trial hearing for Oct. 21. In the meantime, Baker’s attorneys will collect evidence, Elmore said.

Wells ruled Baker incompetent in November 2009. Baker then was sent to Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee for testing and treatment.

Doctors at the hospital determined Baker was competent in May. He was taken to the Walton County Jail for additional testing to determine whether he could be tried for allegedly fatally shooting 22-year-old Racine Argandona and 23-year-old Nicholas Corp-Torres, and wounding three other students.

The students were visiting a friend at Summer Lake town home complex on Scenic Gulf Drive in Destin early on Feb. 26, 2009, when lawmen say Baker fired a rifle through one of the unit’s windows about 1:45 a.m.

Wounded were Sebastian Arizaga-Suarez, David Bilboa-Meza and Francisco Cofre-Fernandez.

Baker barricaded himself inside his town home in the same complex until he surrendered shortly after 6 a.m., according to Walton County deputies.

He is charged with two counts of premeditated first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, three counts of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm and shooting into an occupied building.

The three students who were wounded returned to Chile. Elmore said it is likely they will be called back to testify at Baker’s trial. He said the state will seek the death penalty.

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