Dannie Baker is charged with two counts of premeditated murder, one count of aggravated battery with a weapon and three counts of attempted first degree premeditated murder. The prosecutor is seeking the death penalty in the case and Baker's attorneys have filed a written plea of not guilty.
Baker's defense attorney Lenny Platteborze said, "It is too early to strategize. At this time I have put in the request for demand for discovery and am waiting for that information to come from the state prosecutor's office."
Discovery will include all the evidence the state has gathered, a list of any witnesses they have interviewed and any other pertinent information the defense team will need to create their case. According to Platteborze, many factors will come into play before the trial takes place. The first is the mental and physical evaluation Baker will undergo with forensic psychologist, Dr. Larson, April 14. Information gathered regarding Baker's life will be considered along with results from the evaluation performed by Larson.
The death penalty trial is a two-part jury trial. The first phase is the guilt phase when the state puts forth enough evidence to prove the crime of capital or felony murder took place. The second phase is where the judge sets the penalty. Capital murder is likened to someone getting shot during another crime, such as a liquor store robbery gone bad, according to Platteborze. The state considers premeditated murder a felony.
In Florida there are only two outcomes during a felony murder trial, life imprisonment without parole or death by lethal injection. "The jury will make recommendation for death or life," said Platteborze. "The defense also has the opportunity to present the case for mitigating circumstances and explain the course of conduct they found the person guilty of." According to Platteborze the state can withdraw the intent for the death penalty at any time, if the facts do not support it. "This is why we take the time to evaluate, participate in discovery and interview all parties involved," he said.
The prosecuting attorney assigned to this case is Robert Elmore. When his office was contacted April 13 he was in court and could not be reached for comments. Attempts to contact investigators were also unsuccessful.