DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A convicted killer will soon find out if he is sentenced to death. After four days of emotional and graphic testimony, the defense team for Steven Wiggins rested their case in the sentencing phase of the trial.
Wiggins, convicted last week in the 2018 murder of Dickson County Sergeant Daniel Baker, took the stand briefly Wednesday but only to say he did not plan to testify.
Jurors also heard from the convicted killer’s mother Wednesday. Juanita Wiggins took the stand, crying and looked directly in the eyes of the jurors as she answered each question.
Juanita Wiggins described physical, verbal, and mental abuse that she and her kids endured from Steven’s father Scott. One of those incidents occurring while she was pregnant with the defendant.
“I remember him dragging me by my hair all the way out of the house, across the porch, and down the steps, pregnant with Steven,” she said from the stand adding that he kicked her in the stomach on more than one occasion.
“You try to block these things out once you escape. Once you escape you try not to think about it anymore. You want to go on and you want to live,” she cried to the jury who listened intently, many taking notes.
Her story corroborating testimony we’ve heard from doctors saying Wiggins essentially has a hole in his brain from trauma while in her womb.
Steven’s brother Scott Wiggins also took the stand Wednesday detailing the abuse. Scott told the jury their dad would beat them daily with anything that he could get his hands on and that it wasn’t uncommon for their father to hit Steven in the head.
“Steven being smaller, he could almost throw Steven by the hair,” Scott explained, saying sometimes it damaged the wall.
Both sides rested in the sentencing phase. Closing arguments are set to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday morning.
On August 5, Wiggins was found guilty on 10 charges in the death of Sgt. Baker, including first-degree premeditated murder. He is being held in the Dickson County Jail until sentencing is over.
Wiggins faces the death penalty or life in prison.
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Sentencing Recap: Day One
During the first day of sentencing on Saturday, August 7, four people offered testimony, including medical examiner Dr. Feng Li, an assistant states attorney, a TBI agent, and widow Lisa Baker.
Mrs. Baker spoke about the impact Sgt. Baker’s death has had on their daughter, who is now 5-years-old.
“She knows that he lives in heaven but doesn’t quite understand that he’s never coming back. That he will never be here to hold her, to kiss her, to watch her grow, to offer fatherly advice, to walk her down the aisle, to meet his grandchildren, to do any of the things that a father would, could, and/or should be here to do,” Mrs. Baker read from her victim impact statement.
Sentencing Recap: Day Two
On Monday, the defense took a deep dive into Wiggins’ family history that they said is filled with sexual assaults and physical abuse.
The state, on the other hand, played a disturbing phone call recorded from jail between the defendant and his son. In the call you hear Wiggins’ son, who is now 10-years-old, tell his father that his mom is pregnant. Wiggins then responded, “kick her in the stomach.”
The state trying to prove Wiggins deserves the death penalty, while the defense hopes for life without parole.
Sentencing Recap: Day Three
On Tuesday, family members of Wiggins took the stand. Three of Wiggins’ cousins, who aren’t identified in the summary due to sexual allegations, claim his father molested them as children.
A male testified that he was 11 when Scott Wiggins molested him. Two sisters also testified that, at the ages of 12 and 13, their uncle raped them on multiple occasions.
The prosecution tried to keep the testimony out of the courtroom, arguing it was not directly related to the defendant. “Any of these historical crimes, allegations, a lot of them are just allegations that aren’t directly tied to the defendant, they’re not relevant to this proceeding,” said District Attorney Ray Crouch.
Defense attorney Luke Evans argued the jury is, “tasked with considering the defendant’s social history it’s one of many factors…It allows us to present evidence about the defendant and where he comes from.”
Judge David Wolfe ultimately agreed with the defense and allowed the testimony.
Sgt. Baker was killed on May 30, 2018, after responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle in Dickson County. Wiggins shot and killed Sgt. Baker, then put him back in his patrol car, and set it on fire.
Trial Recap: Day One
Sgt. Baker’s widow Lisa was first to take the stand in Dickson County on Monday, August 2, as the state opened the trial shedding light on the personal life of Baker. Pictures of him as an avid outdoorsman and others capturing that of a loving husband and father.
A home video from Christmas played before the jury of when Sgt. Baker was surprised with a Glock 357 from his wife. It was that backup weapon prosecutors say Steven Wiggins stole from Sgt. Baker after the murder.
Trial Recap: Day Two
On August 3, two officers who discovered Baker’s body provided emotional testimony. The first came from Nathaniel Proctor with the 23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force. He is the one who opened the door to Sgt. Baker’s vehicle, discovering his body.
“I moved to the back door on the driver’s side and his legs and feet come out into my chest. And.. “What was your reaction when you opened that rear door? As a father I thought about his little girl,” said Proctor.
Proctor went on to say he saw Baker was burned under his arm to his waist area. Another 23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force officer, Darrin Adams, responded to the scene. He also provided compelling testimony in court.
“I realized this crime scene might be the only thing that would lead us to his killer. I looked at the backseat where Sgt. Baker’s body was. I noticed a body camera wedged in the backseat. It was hot,” explained Adams.
Trial Recap: Day Three
On August 4, the courtroom heard from Dr. Edmund Hadley, MD, of Sumner Regional Medical Center who treated Wiggins upon his arrival to the Horizon Medical Center. Wiggins was admitted on June 1, 2018. Hadley went over the medical documents created for Wiggins’ visit.
Hadley stated Wiggins told staff he had a history of low blood sugar. He also complained of weakness and fatigue. The doctor said did not find any signs of acute psychosis, something both the defense and prosecution asked him about.
Also on Wednesday, jurors watched body camera footage of Sgt. Daniel Baker’s last moments.
Wiggins was seen on the footage refusing to open the car door and then shooting at the officer multiple times before putting his body in his patrol car and setting it on fire.
The body camera footage playing before the court heard the accused killer’s side of the story. In a taped interview, Steven Wiggins is heard crying, saying he was scared and didn’t want the officer to die. Wiggins said he gave Sgt. Baker CPR.
Trial Recap: Day Four
After closing arguments were made on Thursday, August 5, the jury took only two hours to deliberate and hand down guilty verdicts on all counts against Wiggins.
Wiggins has been found guilty of the following charges:
- False Report
- Premeditated 1st Degree Murder
- Felony Murder
- Theft of Property (Patrol Unit)
- Theft of Property (Guns)
- Criminal Impersonation Law Enforcement: 2 Counts
- Tampering with Evidence
- Arson of Vehicle
- Abuse of Corpse