On Tuesday, the second day of Steven Wiggins’s trial for killing 32-year-old Dickson County, Tennessee Sergeant Daniel Baker in 2018, jurors heard from the law-enforcement officers who found the slain sheriff’s deputy.
Drug Task Force (DTF) Agent Nathaniel Proctor of the 23rd Judicial District was the first to take the stand in the Charlotte courtroom, followed by his colleague Darren Adams. The two described how, after driving to Bear Creek Valley from mile marker 176 on I-40 where they had been on patrol, they found the sergeant’s vehicle with smoke inside blocking any view of the interior. Investigators have said Wiggins set fire to the car with Baker’s body inside it after driving it several miles from the site at which Baker tried to apprehend the defendant for automobile theft and was fatally shot four times.
Proctor sought permission to break through one of the patrol-car windows and, having received that permission, punched through, getting quickly hit with a billow of heat and smoke. Once the agent got a clear view of Baker, he testified, he observed the sergeant positioned upside down and clearly deceased, exhibiting “a whole lot of trauma [and] a lot of blood.”
Asked by prosecutor Ray Crouch what thoughts came to his mind as he examined the scene, Proctor said, “As a father, I thought about his little girl.”
Agent Adams then testified to retrieving Baker’s body camera from the scene and turning it over to Agent Jeff McCliss who was supervising area DTF forces that day. Adams said the camera was still running and was warm, with parts of the casing melted, as a result of the patrol-car fire. Investigators were still able to preserve the footage, which has been aired publicly and is expected to be shown at the trial.
Wiggins has pleaded not guilty to charges including “premeditated first-degree murder,” “false report,” “theft of property,” “criminal impersonation of law enforcement,” “tampering with evidence,” “arson,” and “abuse of the courts.”
Defense counsel for Wiggins has not disputed the defendant’s killing of Baker and has asserted that the issue of guilt depends only on Wiggins’s mental state at the time he shot the sergeant.
If convicted, Wiggins could receive the death penalty. His girlfriend and alleged accomplice, Erika Castro Miles, awaits being tried subsequently.
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