Drunk Driver Sentenced For Killing Motorcyclist

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KINGMAN – During an emotional hearing on Monday, 52-year-old Joseph Richard Baird who pleaded guilty for killing an elderly motorcyclist while driving under the influence of alcohol on 23rd of October, was sentenced to 7 years in jail.

He was behind the wheel of a 1996 Chevrolet and was travelling east on Highway 68 near milepost 25 when he drove into the path of 75-year-old Edward Miller who died due to the negligence of Baird. Miller was behind the wheel of a 2001 Honda motorcycle. He sustained life-threatening injuries in the accident and died in a Las Vegas hospital 5 days later.

Baird pleaded guilty to manslaughter and misdemeanor DUI. His lawyer asked Judge Steven Conn to sentence his client to the minimum 3 years in jail while prosecutor Jacob Cote asked for the maximum 12-and-a-half years for the offense.

After hearing from Baird’s sister and the commander of the VFW in Golden Valley, as well as the victim’s wife, the judge sentenced him.

According to Thomas Hunter, commander of the VFW, Baird was an asset to the community and to the VFW.

Frances Luna, Baird’s sister, told while in tears that he was “at the bottom of his life” when the accident happened. She said he had recently lost his wife, mother and job in a short period of time.

Baird was also crying and said to Conn that he realizes his decision to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel was a bad one. He added, “I’ve gone over it over and over. I know I have to pay my (debt) to society”.

Miller’s wife, Nicole was also emotional at the hearing; she told Conn that she and the victim were married for 38 years. She added, “He took my husband, my friend, my companion and my provider. I don’t have anything left”.

According to Cote, there were many aggravating factors that warranted more than a dozen years in jail in which the fact Baird used his motor vehicle as a dangerous instrument, the victim’s survivors sustained significant emotional harm, his BAC level was 0.195 percent and that the victim was older than 65 were all included.

Conn agreed with Cote on 3 of the 4 factors. The case file has no verification of the victim’s age and Conn said he cannot find that as an aggravating factor.

He noted that Baird has no felony convictions in his history but the judge also noted Baird’s previous driving under the influence conviction in the year 2011.

According to Conn, “Apparently, you didn’t learn anything from your prior DUI”. He also noted the accident happened around 10:30 a.m. The defendant’s level of intoxication at that time led the judge to believe Baird has a “serious alcohol problem”.

In making the sentencing decision, Conn said he hoped any other individual who consumes alcohol at the Golden Valley VFW would think more than one time about getting behind the wheel. He added, “These cases are horrible. There’s nothing I can do to bring back the victim or about the pain suffered by the victim’s family”. He also said that every defendant in Baird’s position says they’d do things differently if they could do it over again.

And while Conn gave Baird the advantage of the doubt when he said he was sorry for what happened, that remorse “does nothing to change the facts”. Conn gave Baird credit for 171 days he spent in the Mohave County jail since the accident in which another man died and ordered him to spend a year on community supervision after his release.

News Source: www.KDMiner.com

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