Friday, June 8, 2018|3:57 p.m.
CHARLOTTE, Tenn.– A man accuseded of eliminating a deputy in Tennessee and burning his body now deals with federal and state charges that might be punishable by death, authorities announced Friday.
A state judge on Friday arraigned Steven Joshua Wiggins on 12 charges, consisting of premeditated murder, in the shooting of 32-year-old Dickson County constable’s Sgt. Daniel Baker. Wiggins’ supposed accomplice, 38-year-old Erika Castro-Miles, was arraigned through webcam on the same murder charge.
The judge entered not-guilty pleas and appointed public defenders for both. Wiggins, 31, appeared in court in orange jail scrubs, flip-flops and handcuffs, speaking lowly and revealing little emotion. The deputy’s family and friends, including his better half, Lisa, endured the hearing and became psychological sometimes.
Baker was reacting to a call about a suspicious automobile last week when he discovered it was stolen, authorities have stated. Castro-Miles remained in the car when Wiggins shot Baker, dragged the deputy’s body into the patrol car and drove it to a rural area, where he set it on fire, court documents state.
Wiggins became the object of a huge 48-hour manhunt. A knapsack he stated he left with was discovered close by with 2 guns inside, consisting of Baker’s backup weapon, court files state.
Chief Law Officer Jeff Sessions and U.S. Lawyer Donald Cochran announced after the hearing that federal charges against Wiggins include carjacking leading to Baker’s death, shooting a gun while devoting a violent criminal offense, having that criminal offense result in death and being a convicted felon with a gun.
“At the Department of Justice, we back the females and guys in blue. Violence against law enforcement officers– federal, state, regional or tribal– will not be tolerated,” Sessions said in a written statement.
Cochran stated that if Wiggins is founded guilty, he faces up to life in jail and is qualified for the federal death penalty, which needs Sessions’ approval. A regional district attorney has stated he will look for capital penalty on the state charges for both offenders.
Inning accordance with federal court files, Wiggins stated the suspicious vehicle was parked in the road pointed the wrong method for about four hours, had a blowout and wasn’t drivable when Baker showed up. Wiggins lagged the wheel and Castro-Miles remained in the front passenger seat. Wiggins gave Baker a fake Social Security number when asked for ID, court documents show.
Wiggins remained at large after being charged the day prior to for assaulting Castro-Miles and stealing that vehicle from her, according to a report from the Kingston Springs Police Department. Castro-Miles informed authorities Wiggins had actually been “doing meth all night and smoking cannabis,” the report states.
Wiggins has several convictions for assault, violation of probation and other offenses on his record.
Baker figured out the vehicle had actually been stolen and ordered the two from the car, but Wiggins claimed his door wouldn’t open and Baker purchased Wiggins to leave from the traveler side, prosecutors stated.
Baker’s body cam tape-recorded some of what took place next: While he walked around the rear of the vehicle to the guest side, Wiggins fired a pistol about five times at Baker, hitting him a minimum of once. Baker attempted to hide, however collapsed, prosecutors stated.
Wiggins then fired 5 more times, the last three at brief variety, prosecutors said.
After shooting those shots, Wiggins went to where Baker was lying and believed he was dead, however “didn’t want the man (Baker) to suffer,” so he shot Baker in the head multiple times: “like a pet, you know, man, its suffering. You ensure,” Wiggins told investigators in court documents.
Wiggins answered a radio dispatch and a call from another deputy on Baker’s mobile phone, pretending to be Baker, the state indictment says.
Then he dragged the deputy’s body into the rear seat of the patrol car and drove it 3 or 4 miles (4.8-6.4 kilometers) to a field, court filings state. He told investigators he was thinking of the TELEVISION show CSI and anxious about forensic proof and finger prints, so he lit documents on fire in the front and back seats and left, court documents show.
The proof, however, wasn’t destroyed. Baker was found with 2 gunshot wounds to his upper body, one to his hand and three to the left side of his head. An initial autopsy revealed the best side of his uniform was charred and his skin blackened.