It took less than a couple of hours on Thursday afternoon for a jury in Dickson County, Tennessee to find 34-year-old Steven Wiggins guilty of all charges in the 2018 murder of Dickson County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Daniel Baker.
Sgt. Baker was a husband, a father, and a Marine.
At trial, the defense conceded that Wiggins killed Baker during a traffic stop, but they attempted to argue that the homicide was not premeditated. Jurors clearly weren’t convinced. Baker’s body cam video and video of Wiggins’ confession was played for jurors during the trial.
Sgt. Baker radioed in the license plate of the vehicle to other law enforcement personnel and was told that the Saturn had been reported stolen. At that point, Sgt. Baker ordered WIGGINS and Castro-Miles out of the vehicle. WIGGINS then claimed that his door (the front driver side door) would not open and that he could not exit the vehicle. After some additional discussion, Sgt. Baker then told WIGGINS to exit out the front passenger side door. Sgt. Baker walked around the rear of the vehicle towards the front passenger side door, at which point WIGGINS opened fire with a .45 caliber pistol. Based on the body camera footage, WIGGINS initially fired approximately five shots, at least one of which struck Sgt. Baker as he attempted to get away from WIGGINS and get to cover.
Jurors also heard that Wiggins shot Baker multiple times at close range, including while the victim was on the ground.
Thereafter, Wiggins tried and failed to completely burn Baker’s body, driving the victim’s police vehicle about three to four miles away and setting it on fire, authorities said. The intact body cam video showed the initial traffic stop, the shooting, and the suspect attempting to impersonate Baker over the police radio. Wiggins also stole a Glock that Baker’s wife gave him at Christmas.
Wiggins was convicted for filing a false report, theft of property, criminal impersonation, tampering with evidence, arson, abuse of a corpse, and premeditated first-degree murder in the killing of Baker.
Jurors will have a break on Friday, but on the sentencing phase will begin on Saturday morning. The judge said he expected that will take three to four days.
Wiggins is looking at three possible sentences: life in prison with the possibility of parole after 51 years (when he would be 85 years old), life in prison without parole, and the death penalty.
Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.
[Image via Dickson Co Sheriff]
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