Double-homicide suspect to have second mental evaluation

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comMay 5, 2014 

Dane D. Register

The man accused of killing a Chattahoochee County couple and burning down their house in 2011 will undergo a second psychological evaluation after telling a judge Monday he hears voices that say a device in his arm lets authorities trace him.

Dane D. Register is charged with murder and arson in the Aug. 9, 2011, slayings of Edward and Elaine Baker, whose charred bodies could be identified only by dental records after being removed from the rubble of their Firetower Road home.

Authorities initially thought lightning from a storm the night of the homicides started the fire and killed the couple, but autopsies showed they suffered no smoke inhalation and must have died before the blaze.

Register now is charged with strangling 68-year-old Edward Baker, a former county road superintendent, and stabbing and choking Elaine Baker, 67, a secretary retired from The Medical Center.

Born in 1970, a native of Americus, Ga., Register has a long history of mental issues and criminal offenses, particularly assaults on women.

On Monday, he was before Superior Court Judge Gil McBride as defense attorney Stacey Jackson sought a change of venue based on pretrial publicity.

McBride wanted to know whether Register was competent to assist in his own defense.

Under the judge’s questioning, Register said he’s currently taking three medications, two of them for depression. “Sometimes I just feel stressed out sometimes,” he told McBride, repeating himself.

He said he four times has injured himself by making superficial cuts on his wrist, and five or six times has stayed overnight in a mental institution for treatment, the last occasion in 2011 at West Central Georgia Regional Hospital, where he remained two weeks because of depression and mood swings. He said he has been diagnosed as bipolar.

Then he told McBride he hears voices: “I hear them every day, sir.”

He started hearing voices in 2012 after he got “staples” in his arm during medical treatment, he said. The voices tell him he has a “trace” in his arm, and he and his family will be killed, he said.

Register was evaluated in April 2012 to determine his competency to stand trial. Noting Register says he started hearing voices after that, McBride said he had no choice but to order a second evaluation to update the defendant’s status.

The judge said he would set Register’s trial for July 7 and ask that the same doctor who evaluated him previously interview Register at West Central Georgia, in the hope the second evaluation can be completed in 30 days.

If the evaluation finds Register competent, the court then can address pretrial motions such as Jackson’s call for a change of venue, McBride said.

Records show Register’s criminal history includes these allegations:

• He bailed out of an automobile and let it roll backward into an Americus police car in August 1999. • He broke into an Americus woman’s home and beat and raped her in August 2000.

• In late 2004, another Americus woman said he tried to rape her, accosting her on a walkway and dragging her into the bushes. She escaped.

• In 2005, a third Americus woman said he exposed himself to her in a telecommunications shop, trapped her behind a desk and refused to let her call for help.

• In 2007, he was accused of stalking at a cosmetics store where the victim said he was masturbating under his clothes as he approached her.

For the 2007 offense, a judge revoked his probation and sent him to prison for two years. Just months after his release, he again was charged with violating his probation and sent to prison for two more years.

He was released July 27, 2011, about two weeks before the Bakers were killed and their house set ablaze.

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