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Man suspected in father’s death deemed incompetent to stand trial
Daniel Burchardt
Daniel Burchardt

A Gainesville man accused of fatally striking his father in the head last April has been ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial.

The psychologist examining Daniel Wallis Burchardt, however, wrote she believes there is  “substantial probability that Mr. Burchardt will achieve restored mental competency in the foreseeable future” with psychiatric medications, according to court documents filed earlier this month.

Burchardt was charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and escape in a May indictment. The charges stemmed from the death of Burchardt’s father, Tony Louis Burchardt, April 5, 2018.

Tony Burchardt, 52, died from blunt force trauma, according to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

Following Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin’s judgment and order, Burchardt will be in the custody of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and will be evaluated again.

“Until that evaluation gets done, there is really little clarity in what the next steps will be after that,” defense attorney Chris van Rossem said.

Competency for trial revolves around a defendant’s ability to understand the charges against them and their ability to assist legal counsel in their own defense.

Citing the pending nature of the case, Burchardt’s attorney did not comment on the allegations in the indictment.

Burchardt was evaluated March 7 at the Hall County Jail.

“Records reviewed by Dr. (Chastity) Farr indicate Mr. Burchardt began abusing substances as a juvenile and has a history of alcohol, cannabis, opioid and anxiolytic use,” according to the report submitted from psychologist Dawn Clark-Plowman.

Part of the report submitted to Gosselin involved a doctor’s 2016 discussion with Burchardt’s father, “who reportedly said his son had ‘at least two significant periods of withdrawal marked by significant symptoms related to benzodiazepine and opiate use while in jail.’”

Burchardt has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and a “psychotic disorder not otherwise specified,” and his mother said he had not taken his prescribed psychotropic medication while at the jail since his arrest, according to the report.

Clark-Plowman wrote Burchardt was “too psychiatrically unstable to participate in a formal competency to stand trial evaluation.”

“He appeared actively psychotic (hallucinating) as indicated by looking down at the floor and talking to himself. He repeatedly stated, ‘Okay, I appreciate it,’ which was said out of context,” according to the report.