Ex-Sheriff Baca Wants Doctor Who Specializes in Mental Illnesses to Testify in Corruption Trial

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca leaving U.S. District Court in February. (Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times)

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca leaving U.S. District Court in February. (Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times)

With his criminal trial just weeks away, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is locked in a legal battle with prosecutors over whether a key witness can testify about his mental health.

In court filings, attorneys for Baca have argued Dr. James Spar, a psychiatrist at UCLA, should be allowed to take the stand during the trial, which is scheduled to begin on Dec. 6.

Spar specializes in mental illnesses affecting the elderly and would tell jurors it is likely that Baca was already suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in April 2013 when he agreed to be questioned by federal investigators, court records show.

During that interview, Baca told investigators repeatedly that he had not been involved in — or even known about — various aspects of a scheme underlings carried out two years earlier to obstruct an FBI probe into abuses by sheriff’s deputies working in county jails. Prosecutors allege Baca’s claims of ignorance were untrue and they charged the former sheriff with lying to federal officials – a felony.

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