Teen fit to stand trial

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

A rural Farina teen charged with murdering a Loogootee couple in their home in August has been ruled mentally fit to stand trial.
In a brief hearing on Tuesday morning in Fayette County Circuit Court, Associate Judge Allan Lolie of Shelby County accepted the mental evaluation on Clifford Baker as submitted by Dr. Fred Krug of Nashville.
In performing the psychiatric evaluation, Krug conducted interviews and reviewed police reports as well as Baker’s school and medical records
Baker, 15, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and two counts of home invasion. He allegedly entered the Loogootee home of John Michael Mahon, 60, and Debra J. Tish, 53, in the early morning hours of Aug. 4 and fatally shot the couple with weapons that were inside the residence.
Baker, who has been charged as an adult, was taken into custody at his residence several hours after the couple was found dead.
In addition to accepting Baker’s fitness evaluation, Lolie set a preliminary hearing for Baker. That hearing will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10.
At the preliminary hearing, a judge will hear evidence of the crime being committed and determine whether there is probable cause to put Baker on trial for the charges filed against him.
Illinois law requires that a preliminary hearing must be held within 30 days of an individual’s arrest, but Baker’s attorney, Monroe McWard of Taylorville, told Lolie on Thursday that the delay in holding such a hearing in this case is charged to the defendant, due to the request for the fitness evaluation.
Also at the Dec. 10 hearing, the judge will hear any pending motions in the case.
Baker has been held in the Madison County Juvenile Detention Center on $2-million bond since his arrest on the morning of the murder.