Boone County prosecutor leaning towards death penalty as suspect is mentally evaluated

BOONE COUNTY, Ind. – As the Boone County prosecutor pushes for the death penalty, he’s taking a closer look at the mental stability of Anthony Baumgardt, the 21-year-old suspected of murdering Deputy Jake Pickett.

“The decision may end up coming sooner than I expected,” said Prosecutor Todd Meyer.

According to David Powell, the president of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, the decision to request the death penalty can take a while.

“They can take a long time if they want to because they want to make it as fair and honest and objective as they can,” said Powell.

Before the prosecutor requests life without parole or the death penalty in a case, they must consider 18 specific factors.

“You have to have one of the factors in your factual pattern before you can even consider the death penalty,” said Powell.

After Baumgardt asked the judge if he could pursue the death penalty on his own, officials say they are going to take a closer look at his mental health.

But, according to Indiana law unless the person has been diagnosed with an “intellectual disability,” they could still face capital punishment.

“Once you do that the supreme court gives two death-qualified lawyers paid for at a certain pay rate,” said Powell.

Even if the victim’s family members push for the death penalty, the prosecutor has the final say.

“It is a big decision that impacts fiscal issues, support in the community, the victims, and your life as a prosecutor,” said Powell.

Officials say it can take 10 to 15 years until the execution. Many prosecutors speak with IPAC’s special litigation team before they make the decision to request the death penalty to get a second opinion and ensure the decision gives the prosecutor the strongest case possible.