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Judge rules nurses must testify at murder trial

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

The judge in the Clifford Baker murder trial has ruled that three employees at a medical center that treated Baker shortly before he murdered a neighbor couple must appear at trial.
At a hearing in Fayette County Circuit Court last Wednesday, Judge Michael McHaney denied a motion in which Baker’s attorneys ask to quash subpoenas issued to three registered nurses who are behavior health employees at Gateway Regional Medical Center.
Baker was treated at the medical center after he allegedly tried to commit suicide. That was a week before he allegedly murdered Mike Mahon and Deb Tish in their Loogootee home.
Baker’s team of attorneys, led by Monroe McWard of Taylorville, have alleged that Baker was prescribed Cymbalta, an antidepressant, and have argued that the Federal Drug Administration has warned against giving that drug to individuals under the age of 18.
Baker, 16, was 15 years old at the time that he allegedly tried to commit suicide and then, in the early morning hours of Aug. 4 of last year, allegedly fatally shot Mahon and Tish in the living room of their home.
Baker’s attorneys argued that the nurses were protected from testifying under the provisions of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act.
In the docket entry in which he denied the defense motion to quash the subpoenas, McHaney said, “Witnesses shall appear where and when requested and reports shall be produced pursuant to (the) subpoenas.”
The judge also wrote in the entry, “Personnel of Gateway shall disclose and all employees regarding any treatment provided to (the) defendant.”
A jury trial for Baker, who is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing Mahon and Tish, has been scheduled to start with jury selection on Aug. 15.
He also is charged with home invasion, with those charges alleging that he broke into the home of another neighbor couple and that he struck one of the occupants with a knife.
He is being held in the Madison County Juvenile Detention Center on $2 million bond, with Fayette County paying the charges related to his housing.