Prater Case Likely to Go to Trial

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Family and friends of Desa Mills and David Baker fought back tears in an Eaton County courtroom while a forensic pathologist described the wounds that caused them to die.

Joyce Dejong's expert testimony helped wrap up the preliminary examination of Randy Prater. He's the man accused of murdering Mills and Baker. Dejong confirmed someone stabbed Mills in the heart and both lungs. Baker died after someone punctured his lung and liver with a knife.

The testimony led the judge to find probable cause that a homicide occurred. That testimony - along with previous testimony from Mills' daughter and a police detective - led the judge to bind Prater over to circuit court on two counts of open murder and one count of home invasion in anticipation of a trial.

Attorneys will meet again on Sept. 19, 2003 to determine if and when a trial should occur.

Prater is also charged with open murder in Calhoun County. Prosecutors allege he ran someone over with his vehicle the same day he's accused of committing the two other murders. The preliminary examination in that case is not yet complete.

Prater's Eaton County attorney says Prater has entered a not guilty plea in response to allegations he murdered Mills and Baker.