A March 9 trial date has been scheduled for a Bluffton man charged in a brutal beating in a Walmart parking lot.
There had been questions about whether Levi Arnold, 22, could understand the case against him and help with his defense. Doctors examined him, and he was found competent Friday to stand trial on charges of murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery, battery resulting in serious bodily injury and resisting police.
The murder charge is punishable by up to 65 years in prison.
DeMarcus Walker, 44, was beaten March 7 with a baseball bat outside the Apple Glen Walmart on the city's west side, police said, and he died about a month later from his injuries. The Allen County coroner's office ruled Walker's death a homicide in July, and Arnold – who had been charged with attempted murder – was charged with murder.
Arnold, who is white, was driving in the store's parking lot and wearing a ski mask when he swerved toward Walker, who is Black, striking him, according to charging documents. Arnold then got out of the car and beat Walker with the bat, investigators said. Walker's family has said the attack was racially motivated.
Witnesses told police the beating stopped when a bystander with a gun told Arnold to stop. Officers then tried to stop Arnold, who appeared in court Friday, as he drove onto West Jefferson Boulevard, but he eluded police and was later arrested at his home in Bluffton.
A Feb. 5 pretrial conference is scheduled.