Mental jurisdiction trial date set for man accused of seriously injuring child in Desert Hot Springs
A May 27 trial date has been set today to determine whether a man accused of seriously injuring a 7-year-old boy in Desert Hot Springs in a random attack last summer is mentally competent.
Daniel Birch Poulsen, 33, was arrested last July after allegedly attacking Gavin Ludwick in the middle of the street in the 9600 block of Vista Del Valle, fracturing the boy’s skull and rendering him unconscious.
The prosecution had previously requested a jury trial to determine whether Poulsen is mentally fit to be prosecuted on one count of attempted murder and child cruelty, as well as two increased sentence allegations.
inflict serious bodily harm.
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To be considered unfit to stand trial, it must be shown that Poulsen does not understand the nature of the criminal proceedings against him.
He would then be sent to a public psychiatric hospital for an indefinite period. The lawsuits against Poulsen were stayed last summer, after his lawyer expressed doubts about his client’s mental health. Two behavioral health specialists were appointed by the court to assess Poulsen’s mental competence.
The psychological assessments revealed doubts about the mental capacity of the accused.
Poulsen is no stranger to jurisdiction procedures. Court records show he has been found mentally incapable of standing trial at least 11 times over the years.
On the night of July 18, police were alerted to the presence of an unconscious child on Vista Del Valle. Investigators determined the boy was deliberately attacked and arrested Poulsen the next day, although police did not disclose how they identified him as the alleged perpetrator.
Desert Hot Springs Deputy Police Chief Steven Shaw said Poulsen and the boy lived in the same neighborhood but did not appear to know each other.
"Everything is indicating this is an absolutely random attack," Shaw said last year.
According to a GoFundMe page posted by a friend of Gavin's family, the youngster was attacked while he was walking home from swimming at a neighbor's house. He was later found bloodied in the middle of the street in the midst of a seizure.
They said Gavin spent several weeks in the hospital and is now home recovering after having a metal plate inserted into a portion of his skull that was damaged in the attack. The boy was with friends and family in front of the Indio courthouse last October before a hearing for Poulsen, with Gavin wearing a shirt reading “I deserve justice,” according to the GoFundMe page.
Poulsen has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County, but court records show he has been arrested and charged with misdemeanors 15 times in Riverside County since 2007 for various alleged crimes, including burglary, assault and battery , resistance to arrest, indecent exposure, committing obscene acts in public and disturbing or assaulting a child under the age of 18.