Murder trial pushed back to April

The jury trial for a Loogootee teenager charged with fatally shooting a couple living near his home has been pushed back to April.
The trial for Clifford Baker was reset during a hearing in Fayette County Circuit Court last Wednesday, after Fayette County State’s Attorney Stephen Friedel said he needed time to review two pending motions filed by Baker’s attorney, Monroe McWard of Taylorville.
McWard has filed a motion asking for the suppression of statements made by Baker after he was taken into custody.
Baker, 16, is charged with first-degree murder and home invasion, with the charges alleging that he fatally shot 60-year-old Michael Mahon and 53-year-old Deb Tish in their home in the early-morning hours of Aug. 4.
In his motion, McWard contends that statements made by Baker “were the result of physical coercion,” in that he was tasered by a Fayette County sheriff’s deputy, and that during interrogation, “statements were involuntarily (given).”
He also argues that Baker made statements to law enforcement authorities without his father being present, and that he was not allowed to have contact with his family for almost 72 hours after his arrest on Aug. 7.
McWard said statements made by Baker were “involuntarily given in violation of his constitutional rights.”
A 1 p.m. hearing on Feb. 2 was scheduled for two motions filed by McWard on the suppression of statements made by Baker.
Wednesday’s hearing started with Judge Michael McHaney denying a motion by McWard that asked the judge to reconsider his decision not to grant the defense motion for the substitution of McHaney with another judge.
McHaney did grant a defense motion asking that Baker be allowed to view at the Madison County Juvenile Detention Center discovery information filed by the prosecution, on the condition that the information not be given to anyone else, including members of his family.
McHaney also granted a defense motion that continues the appointment of a psychiatrist, Dr. Frederick Klug, “for the purpose of determining sanity and/or mental illness of the defendant.”
The judge denied a defense motion in which McWard asked the court to appoint a forensic pharmacologist, but gave the defense an opportunity to file an amended motion on the matter.
McWard contends that Baker was prescribed the drug Cymbalta shortly before he allegedly shot the Loogootee couple. He argues that the antidepressant, based on drug information, is believed to cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and that it is approved for individuals over the age of 18.
Friedel argued that the defense should not be allowed to ask for the appointment of a pharmacologist if there is the possibility that the testimony of that expert would be used in a civil case against the drug company that makes Cymbalta.

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