An Ohatchee man charged with killing three women in a 2016 car crash was ordered by a judge Wednesday to undergo a mental evaluation by a state psychiatrist or psychologist.
Jordan Stewart Baker, 23, was ordered by Calhoun County Circuit Judge Brian Howell to undergo the examination on an outpatient basis in order to determine his mental state at the time of the alleged offenses.
Baker was initially charged in October 2016 with three counts of murder, attempting to elude law enforcement and reckless driving. He was charged in February 2017 with first-degree theft of property.
Police told The Star in 2016 that Baker drove a stolen truck over the centerline of Old Gadsden Highway and collided with a 2006 Honda Civic carrying 74-year-old Joy Howell, 43-year-old Melanie Trantham and 39-year-old Melanie Hurst. Police said Howell was Trantham’s mother.
According to Calhoun County sheriff’s deputies, Baker had been taken to Regional Medical Center by another law enforcement agency the day before the wreck. Police said he left the hospital Sept. 27, 2016, and stole the truck from the parking lot less than an hour before the wreck.
Baker became trapped in the truck, which caught fire. Anniston firefighters broke the truck apart to rescue him, and he was airlifted to UAB hospital in Birmingham and arrested the day he was discharged.
According to court documents, defense attorney Will Broome expressed his intent in pursuing a special not guilty plea by reason of mental defect on Baker’s behalf.
Howell ordered that the Sheriff’s Office be responsible for Baker’s care and transportation if he is still an inmate at the Calhoun County Jail when he is scheduled for the examination.
Baker remained in jail Friday with bond set at $781,000.
The district attorney’s office was also ordered to make available to the examining psychiatrist or psychologist information about the nature and circumstances surrounding Baker’s alleged offenses, along with his prior criminal history and records of previous psychiatric treatment.
After the conclusion of the examination, Howell ordered, the psychiatrist or psychologist will submit a written report containing information about Baker’s mental state at the time of the offense and his or her opinion on whether he suffered from a mental defect that could have been a factor in the offenses.
An attempt to contact Broome on Friday for additional comment was unsuccessful.
Murder is a Class A felony. If convicted, Baker could face a life sentence in prison and owe up to $60,000 in fines, per state law for each of the three counts he’s charged with.