THE COLUMBIAN, Vancouver, Washington, Wednesday, 29 September 2004.

Judge orders depositions in alleged circumcision

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
By KEN OLSEN, Columbian staff writer

The mother of an 8-year-old Ridgefield boy must speak to investigators about her husband's botched attempt to circumcise their son, Clark County Superior Court Judge James Rulli ruled Tuesday.

The victim also must give a deposition Oct. 12, the judge ordered.

Tammy Baxter and her nine children disappeared Sept. 3, after Edwin B. Baxter tried to circumcise his son with a knife in the bathroom of the family home. Baxter, 33, tried to perform the operation after reading about it in the Old Testament, investigators said.

He faces a charge of second-degree assault and is being held in the Clark County Jail on $50,000 bail.

Senior deputy prosecutor Kim Farr asked for the court-ordered depositions because investigators have been unable to locate the wife and alleged victim, who are considered key witnesses in the case.

Baxter's father, Bruce Baxter of Vancouver, spoke with Farr for nearly an hour after Tuesday's court hearing and promised to try to find Tammy Baxter and encourage her and her son to meet with investigators. But she is "fearful of being arrested herself or Child Protective Services taking her children," Farr said.

"We're attempting to assist her in coming forward," Farr added. "We're trying to convince her that hiding her children is bad for her husband's criminal case and bad for her interaction with Child Protective Services," which also is interested in the family's well-being.

Baxter's father had contacted Farr earlier to arrange a meeting with the mother and 8-year-old boy after hearing about the prosecutor's problems contacting the family. They didn't show up. And Baxter's father later called to say he'd been unable to locate the family, Farr said.

Defense attorney Tony Lowe objected to the depositions on the grounds that investigators may be trying to build a criminal case against the mother. Investigators also have not attempted to contact Tammy Baxter when she attended her husband's earlier court appearances, Lowe said.

"It's an abuse of process this is not an investigative tool," Lowe said.

The judge disagreed.

The judge did, however, agree to appoint a psychiatrist to examine Baxter to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

When the judge pressed for reasons for the psychiatric examination, defense attorney Lowe alluded to a head injury Baxter received as a teenager. If the psychiatrist finds Baxter mentally incompetent to stand trial, prosecutors can ask that he be examined by experts at Western State Hospital.

Judge Rulli also denied Baxter's request for a new defense attorney.

"I lack confidence in Mr. Lowe, sir," Baxter said when Rulli asked him to explain his dissatisfaction with Lowe. But Rulli said personality conflicts and the fact that an attorney can't spend unlimited time with a defendant aren't grounds for granting such a request.

"I need proof he's not doing anything on your behalf," Rulli said.

Ken Olsen is a projects reporter for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-759-8010 or


Previously: Investigators have been unable to interview the family of a man who allegedly attempted to circumcise his 8-year-old son.

What's new: A Clark County Superior Court judge ordered 33-year-old Edwin B. Baxter's wife and son to give depositions to investigators in two weeks.

What's next: Investigators will attempt to locate the family, missing since Sept. 3, and serve them with the court order.

(File created 29 September 2004)