Skip to Content

Mental competency trial for man accused of attacking 7-year-old DHS boy delayed to August


The mental competency trial for a man accused of severely injuring a 7-year-old Desert Hot Springs boy in a random attack has been delayed. The trial is now scheduled to be held on August 31.

Daniel Birch Poulsen, 34, was arrested in July 2020 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.

Poulsen was charged with one count each of attempted murder and willful child cruelty, along with two-sentence enhancing allegations of inflicting great bodily injury.

According to a GoFundMe page posted by a friend of Gavin's family, the boy 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.

Gavin recovering in the hospital

Desert Hot Springs Deputy Police Chief Steven Shaw said Poulsen and the boy live in the same neighborhood but did not appear to know each other. Poulsen was arrested the day after the attack, however, there was no word on how police were able to identify him as as the alleged perpetrator.

"Everything is indicating this is an absolutely random attack," Shaw previously said.

Gavin spent several weeks in the hospital and was able to make a recovery after having a metal plate inserted into a portion of his skull that was damaged in the attack.

Details: How one 7-year-old boy is doing after being attacked in DHS

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

Back when Poulsen was arraigned, the judge declared a doubt after his public defender said he believed the defendant did not understand the charges filed against him, causing the suspension of the proceedings.

Poulsen underwent a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he is mentally competent. Two behavioral health specialists were appointed by the court to evaluate Poulsen's mental competency.

Last year, the prosecution requested a jury trial to determine whether Poulsen is mentally fit to be prosecuted. To be considered incompetent to stand trial, it must be shown that Poulsen does not understand the nature of the criminal proceedings against him.

Poulsen is no stranger to competency proceedings. Court records show he has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial at least 11 times over the years.

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 a variety of alleged crimes, including burglary, battery, resisting arrest, indecent exposure, committing lewd acts in public and annoying or molesting a child under 18 years old.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates on this case.

Be the first to know when news breaks in Coachella Valley. Download the News Channel 3 app here.

Article Topic Follows: Kids and Crime

Jesus Reyes

City News Service


News Channel 3 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content