Defendant to take more tests

AIKEN - The mental state of Craig Baldwin, charged in last summer's death of his elderly mother, will be examined by a psychiatrist, a judge ordered Friday. The judge also read the murder charges to Mr. Baldwin, whose attorney waived formal arraignment and said his client pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Baldwin, 58, who authorities say killed his mother, then left town to attend his daughter's wedding, has a history of mental illness and has complained of memory loss, his attorney, Bill Toal, told Circuit Court Judge R. Ferrell Cothran.

Mr. Baldwin has been diagnosed with a specific illness, but Mr. Toal said he was waiting on documented proof.

Mr. Baldwin walked into the courtroom Friday, stood beside his attorney during the brief hearing and did not speak.

Judge Cothran questioned whether Mr. Baldwin knew the difference between right and wrong, but Mr. Toal did not immediately respond.

In an interview after the hearing, Mr. Toal said Mr. Baldwin will undergo two tests: one that will show whether he is aware of right and wrong and another to determine whether he can effectively assist in his own defense.

Asked whether his client is insane, Mr. Toal said "that's what the examination is for."

Authorities have not said how Mr. Baldwin's mother, Dale Baldwin, 83, died, or whether they know.

Her decomposed body was found on the front lawn of her home June 23; authorities estimate that she had been dead a week. Mrs. Baldwin lived along York Street in one of Aiken's historic districts.

Even though she had lived in Aiken for less than two years when she died, she was active in the community and well-known.

Mr. Baldwin walked his daughter down the aisle in Lexington, Ky., the day after his mother's body was found. Aiken detectives traveled to Lexington to speak with him but said they did not have enough evidence at the time to charge him in his mother's death.

When charges were later made public, he eluded police for about a week before being found in a hotel in Asheville, N.C.

Mr. Baldwin surrendered peacefully but fought extradition for several weeks before he was taken to the Aiken County Detention Center.

He applied for a public defender but was denied because of having too much money. After sitting several months in jail without an attorney, Mr. Baldwin retained Mr. Toal, who is based in Columbia.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 648-1395 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.