A Gainesville man charged with killing his father in April 2018 was committed to a mental health facility Thursday, potentially for the remainder of his life, according to court officials.
Daniel Wallis Burchardt, 27, was indicted in May 2018 on malice and felony murder charges from the April 5, 2018, death of Tony Louis Burchardt, 52, by striking his father in the head with a club.
Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin ruled in September that Burchardt, who has been evaluated several times by mental health professionals, was not competent to stand trial and could not be restored to competency.
Burchardt appeared via Zoom Thursday, Oct. 27, for a hearing, where the prosecution, defense and Gosseiln discussed civil commitment for Burchardt potentially for life.
“I do believe that he is both a danger to himself and others,” Gosselin said when discussing the criteria for commitment.
The judge also said she felt Burchardt met the other criteria of being unable to care for himself and needing a treatment program inside a hospital setting.
According to court documents, doctors from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities said the symptoms of Burchardt’s schizophrenia, which include thought blocking and thought disorganization, “affect his ability to rationally and coherently communicate and impair his ability to assist his attorney adequately.”
When a person is civilly committed to a mental health facility, there is an annual review to make sure the person meets the criteria for being committed to that facility.
Defense attorney Chris van Rossem said a person can only be committed for what the maximum sentence would be for his charges. In Burchardt’s case, malice murder carries a sentence of life in prison.
“Because of the offenses that he is charged with, it is possible that he could be civilly committed for the rest of his life,” van Rossem said.
Gosselin told Burchardt he was allowed to speak at the hearing. The man only said he was thankful for the judge allowing him to appear at the hearing.
Van Rossem said he felt the solution was “appropriate resolution given all that we know and have learned about his psychiatric condition.”