On Nov. 9, Luke Ingram, 19, was charged with second degree murder in the death of his grandfather, Darwin Ingram, at 34 Clermont Court in Palm Coast.
On Monday, Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Dunton, who is prosecuting the case, took the case to a grand jury and got the indictment on the charge of first degree, pre-meditated murder, a capital felony that exposes Ingram to the death penalty, and added a new charge of sexual assault with a weapon. Luke is accused of raping Darwin Ingram, 85, with an object as he was dying. The charge is a life felony.
Luke also faces a charge of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, a first degree felony, and three lesser charges.
Luke Ingram’s mental competence to proceed, however, is likely to be the central factor of the case, and of his defense. According to Darwin Ingram, Luke’s 48-year-old father, Luke has schizophrenia and had been convinced by his father the day before to leave college in Georgia and come to Palm Coast, because he had been acting strange.
According to Flagler County Sheriff’s detectives’ investigation, summarized in Luke Ingram’s arrest report, Luke had arrived the evening of Nov. 8 at the home where his grandfather had lived for decades after retiring from a career in the federal government. Luke had dinner with his father and grandfather, staring at them both. Clint went to sleep after dinner “and locked his door dur to Luke’s behavior,” according to the arrest report. Clint could hear his son conversing with Darwin about the house dog and a watch before falling asleep.
Clint then awoke “to a growl-like sound and screaming,” got out of the room, found Darwin bloody and unresponsive in the living and Luke sitting in his grandfather’s room. When Clint called 911, father and son struggled as Luke attempted to keep his father from calling for help. His father, injured, escaped and ran to two neighboring houses, frantically knocking on doors to seek help and to hide from his son. Residents at neither house opened their door–it was just past 3 a.m.–but they called 911.
When deputies arrived at the scene at 3:14 a.m. and knocked on the door, a shirtless Luke answered and raised his arms, but stood there, wordless and motionless, at the entrance to the home. Deputies had him at gunpoint, urging him to “step outside,” but he just stood there, staring at the deputies. “Luke, come outside with us, we’ll figure everything out,” a deputy is heard telling him. He then lowers his hands, walks out a few steps, but when the deputies ask him to turn around, he keeps staring.
The deputies are still pointing their weapons at him–they’d been told that there was a rifle in the house, and a bloodied, unresponsive man inside–but their tone is not aggressive. They keep repeating the same commands to turn around and face away from them, or ask him, “what’s going on today? You’re all right?” “We have an ambulance on standby but you have to come with us.” As he keeps staring them down with silence, they change approach, ask him if he could kneel down in place. Still nothing. A deputy tells him, “Look, we’re only going to ask nicely so many times.” They keep asking.
Almost five minutes after Luke opened the door, a deputy fires a taser dart, then another as deputies approach and take control of him. The Sheriff’s Office released a video of the confrontation. The video footage stops immediately after the second Taser shot, then switches to a different deputy’s camera as he arrives at the scene. By then Ingram is in handcuffs.
Luke Ingram had driven a white Honda Acord, where deputies found a bloodied hoodie sweatshirt and what appeared to be blood stains on the driver’s seat. He’s being held at the county jail on no bond.
Two years ago, Nathaniel Shimmel, facing a second degree murder charge in the stabbing death of his mother in the front yard of their Palm Coast home in 2017, when he was 22, pleaded to the charge and was sentenced to 50 years in prison. He had been charged with first degree murder at the time of his arrest. The defense never made an issue of his competency to stand trial: Shimmel told authorities he panicked when his mother told him she was throwing him out of the house, so he grabbed a knife and stabbed her, and that there was no god that could forgive him.
In 2006, Richard Dunn, a schizophrenic, faced first-degree murder charge in the stabbing death of his father at a house on Clarendon Court in Palm Coast. That incident has many similarities with the killing of Darwin Ingram, including the mutilation of th victim’s body and overt symptoms of paranoia that preceded the act. Dunn was found not guilty by reason of insanity in a non-jury trial, spent several years in a psychiatric hospital, then a halfway house in Daytona Beach. He was barred from traveling to Flagler. He was recommitted to the psychiatric hospital last year after showing bizarre behavior again, and allowed to return to the halfway house in October.