A jury might be prejudiced against Steven Wiggins if uniformed law enforcement officers fill the courtroom at next year’s trial for the man accused of murdering Dickson County sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Baker, according to the judge in the case.
In a hearing last Thursday, Dickson County Circuit Judge David Wolfe agreed with defense lawyer David Hopkins, who said an “overwhelming police presence” might deprive Wiggins of his right to a fair trial and provide grounds for appeal if his client is convicted.
Lawyers and Wolfe spoke of two groups: uniformed deputies on duty to secure the courtroom, and off-duty police who show up in uniform to observe the proceedings. Hopkins said both groups pose an issue.
Wolfe said he plans to have four uniformed officers on duty at the February trial. If he decides more security is needed, additional police will be in plain clothes. Off-duty police who attend the trial must be in plain clothes, he said.
With a second motion on what the jury is allowed to see, Hopkins asked Wolfe to prevent observers from wearing pro-Baker shirts and buttons at the trial. Wolfe took a wait-and-see approach, saying he wants to know the scope of any such show of support before ruling.
Wiggins is charged with first-degree murder and other counts in connection with the May 2018 death of Baker. Wiggins is accused of shooting Baker multiple times, dragging his body into his patrol car and setting the vehicle ablaze.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.