Dickson, TN – State and federal prosecutors released additional details about the brutal murder of Dickson County Sergeant Daniel Baker on Friday, including allegations that one of the suspects attempted to set the fallen hero’s body and patrol vehicle on fire.
Steven Wiggins, 31, and Erika Castro-Miles, 38, were charged with first-degree premeditated murder by state prosecutors on May 30, WTVF reported.
On Thursday, a grand jury returned indictments on 11 additional counts against Wiggins, including destruction of evidence, false report to a law enforcement officer, arson, theft, criminal impersonation, and abuse of a corpse, District Attorney Ray Crouch said during a Friday press conference.
Wiggins was also served with the state’s notice of intent to seek the death penalty.
“I look forward to seeking justice on behalf of Sgt. Baker’s family, of his friends, and on behalf of this community,” Crouch said during the conference.
Wiggins and Castro-Miles both pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in state court on Friday morning, The Washington Post reported.
U.S. Attorney Don Cochran further announced that Wiggins was indicted on four federal counts on Friday, including carjacking resulting in the death of Sgt. Baker, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence causing a death.
Wiggins will be eligible for the death penalty on two of the charges, Cochran said.
“We, in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will back our men and women in blue,” Cochran vowed during the press conference. “Every act of violence against a law enforcement officer will be investigated by our office and, if appropriate, we will bring federal charges. Today, I’m here to make good on that promise.”
“Unfortunately, in our society today, there are too many who have come to believe that it’s okay to assault a law enforcement officer, and even some who believe that it’s okay to kill,” he continued.
“Our message here today … is that we will stand together, and we will come after you with everything we have. We’ll find you, and when we do, we’ll prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law in every available form. We’ll seek the maximum punishment allowed by law, and we will bring justice to our communities, and to the families of our fallen heroes,” he said.
Sgt. Baker was viciously murdered on May 30, after he responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle, the U.S. State’s Attorney’s Office said in a press release.
The sergeant stumbled upon Wiggins and Castro-Miles, who were inside a vehicle that had a flat tire.
Sgt. Baker determined that the vehicle had been stolen, and directed both occupants to exit the vehicle.
Wiggins claimed that his driver’s door would not open, so the sergeant told him to get out of the passenger side of the car.
According to the press release, Sgt. Baker’s bodycam showed that Wiggins opened fire as the sergeant was walking around the rear of the stolen vehicle to meet Wiggins at the passenger door.
Wiggins fired approximately five rounds from a .45 caliber pistol, and the sergeant was hit by at least one as he attempted to get to cover.
Sgt. Baker collapsed to the ground several yards away, at which point Wiggins allegedly discharged five more rounds at him.
“The last three [appeared] to have been fired at close range,” the release noted.
Autopsy findings indicated that Sgt. Baker was shot six times – once in the torso, once in the hand, and three times in the left side of his head.
After he murdered Sgt. Baker, Wiggins dragged the slain hero’s body to his patrol vehicle and placed him in the back seat.
Wiggins also allegedly pretended to be a police officer and sent out a radio transmission at one point, KFOX reported. And when another deputy called Sgt. Baker’s cell phone, Wiggins answered it and tried to convince the deputy that he was Sgt. Baker.
Wiggins ultimately drove the patrol car into a field more than three miles away, and set the inside ablaze before fleeing the scene.
When he was apprehended on June 1, Wiggins was found to be in possession of Sgt. Baker’s firearm, as well as the .45 caliber handgun.
During the press conference, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Jason Locke noted that the multiagency collaboration had been paramount in Wiggins’ apprehension and praised the unity displayed at all levels of the investigation and forthcoming prosecution.
“These law enforcement officers, who selflessly accept the responsibility of placing themselves between their community and criminals, deserve to come home every night,” Locke said. “And when they don’t, when they’re injured or killed, those that do harm to them will face the full force of every agency represented here.”
“In this family, no one fights alone,” he added.
Wiggins, who was previously convicted of felony aggravated assault and domestic violence, was also on probation at the time of Sgt. Baker’s murder.
His trial has been set for Aug. 19, 2019, according to Crouch.