A California man accused of brutally attacking a 7-year-old boy, including fracturing his skull, has been ordered a psychological evaluation to determine if if he is fit to stand trial.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Alfonso Fernandez appointed Thursday a doctor to evaluate Daniel Birch Poulsen, NBC Palm Springs reported. The 32-year-old’s defense attorney had cited concern over his client’s mental competence.
Poulsen is accused of attempting to murder, among other charges, Gavin Ludwick on July 18 in Desert Springs, the station said. A criminal complaint obtained by NBC Palm Springs claims the suspect caused the boy to “become comatose due to brain injury or to suffer paralysis of a permanent nature.”
On top of attempted murder, Poulsen faces one count of willful child cruelty and sentence-enhancing allegations of committing bodily injury, the station said.
Police received news of a “child lying in the roadway”last Saturday, according to a Desert Hot Springs Police Department Facebook post.
NBC Palm Springs added that a neighbor, Arturo Delgado, found Gavin “face down.”
“I said, ‘hey Gavin!’ and when I went to turn him over I noticed that there was damage on the right side of his head … I called his name out and he started to cry … I was in shock by that point because I couldn’t believe what was happening so I picked him up … ran to his house knocked on the door … the family was shocked,” Delgado said to the station.
Poulsen was arrested the following day, NBC Los Angeles said.
He remains jailed at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning with a bail set at $1 million, NBC Palm Springs added.
A doctor is set to report on Poulsen’s mental competence during his next appearance on Sept. 17 at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, NBC Palm Springs disclosed.
Here’s what you need to know:
Poulsen & Gavin Live in the Same Neighborhood, But Don’t Seem to Know Each Other, Police Say
Desert Hot Springs Deputy Police Chief Steven Shaw said in a statement to NBC Palm Springs that, although the two live in the same neighborhood, the attack appears to be random.
“Everything is indicating this is an absolutely random attack,” Shaw said.
The chief explained to the station that Gavin was walking home from a neighbor’s house when he was targeted.
“This was an innocent child walking home after a fun day at the pool, doesn’t look like there was any type of verbal confrontation or anything like this, this looks like a completely random attack based on what we’re seeing the child may not have even seen the attack coming,” Shaw told NBC Palm Springs.
Investigators found that Gavin was “deliberately attacked,” but did not reveal how they determined Poulsen as the suspect, the station reported.
He was found “hiding in the neighborhood” early Sunday morning and taken into custody, AZ Family added.
A Go Fund Me For Gavin Has Raised Over $73,000
A Go Fund Me on behalf of Gavin’s mother, Wendy Ludwick, was created four days ago by a woman named Mandy Franklin, according to the site.
The fund seeks to raise $20,000 to go toward the family’s medical expenses.
“All the money raised here will go to Gavin’s medical care, therapy, and anything the family needs to care for him, and themselves, as they focus on his healing and rehabilitation,” the fund’s statement reads.
“Any little bit is appreciated to help this family face what we know is going to be a long, hard, expensive road ahead.”
Wendy Ludwick posted an update to the fundraiser on July 23, saying Gavin is awake and “progressing.”
“The nurse said he is barely medicated now,” she wrote. “He’s just on meds to keep him from having a seizure and from being jittery. He’s progressing so well that they are going to move him to the less intense ICU!!!”
So far, more than 1,500 people have donated just over $73,000.
Poulsen Has Been Deemed Mentally Unfit at Least 11 Times
The 32-year-old has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial at least 11 times, NBC Palm Springs reported, and has been arrested 15 times in Riverside County since 2007.
Poulsen’s arrests and charges vary, including allegations of burglary, battery, resisting arrest, indecent exposure, committing lewd acts in public and annoying and/or molesting a child under 18 years old, the Desert Sun said.
No felony convictions are documented for Poulsen in Riverside County, the Sun continued, “although at least four of his cases started out with the filing of felony charges before being reduced to misdemeanors either by the court, or as part of the plea bargaining process.”