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Judge to determine competency of Gainesville man accused of killing father with club
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Daniel Burchardt sits in Hall County Superior Court Thursday, June 30, 2022, for a competency hearing. Burchardt is accused of killing his father in 2018. - photo by Scott Rogers

More than four years after his arrest, a Gainesville man charged with killing his father appeared before a Superior Court judge Thursday, June 30, to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

Daniel Wallis Burchardt, 26, was indicted in May 2018 with malice murder in the April 5, 2018, death of Tony Louis Burchardt, 52. According to the indictment, Daniel Burchardt hit his father on the head with a club.

Burchardt appeared in court with his attorney, Chris van Rossem, before Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin.

At its simplest, Burchardt’s competency concerns whether or not he is capable of understanding the charges against him and aiding his attorney in his defense at a possible trial.

Gosselin listened to a handful of witnesses including mental health professionals who have observed Burchardt.

In April 2019, Gosselin ruled that there was sufficient psychiatric evidence that Burchardt was at the time not competent to stand trial. The judge ordered Burchardt transferred to a state facility, where he would be evaluated on whether he could become competent in the foreseeable future.

Mental health evaluations entered into the court record show that Burchardt had a history of schizophrenia.

Daniel Burchardt
Daniel Burchardt

A licensed psychologist, Dr. Dawn Clark-Plowman, wrote that Burchardt’s thought process was disorganized.

“He appeared actively psychotic (hallucinating) as indicated by looking down at the floor and talking to himself,” according to Clark-Plowman’s report.

Dr. N. Elliot Currence said Burchardt was competent to stand trial in August 2019, and Burchardt was returned to the Hall County Sheriff, according to court documents.

In September 2019, van Rossem filed a motion for mental evaluation concerning Burchardt’s “criminal responsibility or insanity at the time of the act.”

Burchardt’s attorney wrote he had reason to believe that Burchardt “was insane and/or incompetent at the time” of the alleged crimes.

The motion sought for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to determine whether Burchardt had the mental capacity to discern right from wrong and whether or not “the presence of a delusional compulsion overmastered (Burchardt’s) will to resist committing the alleged act.”

By October 2019, the court learned that Burchardt had not taken his prescribed medication for over three weeks, according to court documents.

Currence told the prosecution that Burchardt would likely decompensate, or lose his competency to stand trial, if not properly medicated.

Gosselin said there are few times that she had not decided a competency case immediately following the hearing. Burchardt’s case falls into that rare category

“I am going to take my time,” Gosselin said. “I’m going to review the evidence again and your arguments and the law.”

With years of information to consider, Gosselin said Burchardt’s case “illustrates to me the complexities of the legal standards concerning competency to stand trial.”