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Wiggins faces federal, state charges for shooting death of Dickson County deputy

Staff Reports • Jun 8, 2018 at 4:05 PM

NASHVILLE – In a joint announcement Friday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. attorney Don Cochran announced federal charges against Steven Wiggins, 31, of Dickson, following an announcement that Wiggins, along with Erika Castro-Miles, 38, also of Dickson, were indicted for the murder of Dickson County sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Baker.

Wiggins was charged in a criminal complaint Thursday afternoon with violations of four federal statutes, including carjacking resulting in the Baker’s death. The criminal complaint also charged Wiggins with using, carrying and discharging a firearm during the commission of a violent crime; being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm; and using, carrying and discharging a firearm during a violent crime, which resulted in the death of another person.

“At the Department of Justice, we back the women and men in blue,” said Sessions. “Violence against law enforcement officer – federal, state, local or tribal – will not be tolerated. Sgt. Daniel Baker served our country and the people of Tennessee faithfully and honorably, first as a Marine and then as a member of the Dickson County Sheriff’s Office, before he was killed in the line of duty. The Department of Justice will hold those responsible for his murder accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Cochran, joined by District Attorney Ray Crouch; Dickson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe; and the leadership of local, state and federal law enforcement, made a joint announcement of state and federal charges at a Friday morning news conference in Dickson.

“We stand here in absolute solidarity to say to anyone who commits an act of violence against a law enforcement officer, particularly if you kill or seriously injure one of our men and women in blue, you will face the full force and effect of our justice system, and we will be unrelenting in our unified efforts to bring you to justice, just as we have done here,” said Cochran.

Crouch said a grand jury in Dickson returned indictments Wednesday that charged Wiggins and Castro-Miles with Baker’s murder. Cochran then announced the federal charges brought Thursday against Wiggins.

“[On Wednesday], a Dickson County grand jury, sitting in a special session, returned indictments charging Steven Wiggins and Erika Castro-Miles with the willful and premeditated murder of Sgt. Daniel Baker,” said Crouch. “I look forward to seeking justice on behalf of his family and this community. I am grateful for the support of the United States attorney and will work with all of our partners at every level until justice is achieved.”

The complaint alleged on May 30, Baker responded to a suspicious vehicle call in Dickson County. When he arrived, he encountered two people in a vehicle, later identified as Wiggins, the driver, and Castro-Miles, the passenger. The vehicle had a flat tire and was not drivable. Baker discovered the vehicle was stolen and ordered both occupants out. Wiggins then claimed his door would not open, and Baker ordered him to exit from the passenger’s side.

According to the body camera video recovered from Baker, Baker then walked around the rear side of the vehicle to the passenger side and Wiggins shot at him five times with a .45-caliber pistol. Baker was hit by at least one of those shots and tried to take cover before collapsing several yards away. While Baker was lying wounded on the ground, Wiggins shot five more times, including at least three times from close range. Initial autopsy findings showed Baker was shot six times; twice in his torso, once in his hand and three times in the left side of his head.

The complaint also alleged after shooting Baker, Wiggins repositioned Baker’s patrol car and dragged Baker’s body to the car and placed it in the back seat and drove away. Wiggins then drove the patrol vehicle three to four miles away and into a field near the intersection of Bear Creek Valley Road and Byrd Road in Dickson County, where he set a fire inside the vehicle and left the scene.

The complaint further alleged at the time Wiggins was captured by the Tennessee Highway Patrol on June 1, his backpack contained a .45-caliber pistol and a Glock pistol.

Subsequent investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined shell casings found at the scene where Baker was shot matched the .45-caliber gun, and Baker’s wife previously bought the Glock recovered from Wiggins’ backpack.

Finally, the complaint alleged Wiggins was previously convicted of aggravated assault, a class C felony, in December in Williamson County, and convicted of domestic violence in Dickson County in 2009. Each of the convictions prohibited Wiggins from possession of a firearm.

Wiggins faces life in prison and is eligible for the death penalty if he is convicted.

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