HUNTINGTON — A Cabell County judge upheld a prison sentence Tuesday for a Detroit man who killed a woman after striking her with a vehicle along 9th Avenue in Huntington in 2018, citing his criminal history and his flight from the crime scene.
Jermaine Demeurs Baird, 30, pleaded guilty in Cabell Circuit Judge Christopher D. Chiles’ court Tuesday to leaving the scene of an accident involving death in the Aug. 5, 2018, hit-and-run crash that left pedestrian Carol Brooks dead. He was sentenced to serve one to five years in prison.
Chiles upheld the sentence Tuesday during a reconsideration hearing. The one- to five-year sentence is the maximum allowed by state statute.
In denying reconsidering the sentence, Chiles said the defendant had been arrested 16 times and charged with 12 misdemeanors and 16 felonies. Including the current case, he has been convicted of eight felonies. He also has a pending five-count indictment in Scioto County, Ohio.
Brooks was killed by Baird on Aug. 5, 2018, when she was struck by a silver Chevrolet Malibu while she was walking in the 1100 block of 9th Avenue. The suspect fled the scene after Brooks was struck, and the suspect’s vehicle was later recovered in Detroit.
The Huntington Violent Crime and Drug Task Force didn’t arrest Baird, aka “Gucci,” in Huntington until Aug. 29, 2019, and charged him with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.
At the time of his arrest, Baird also had outstanding warrants for being a fugitive from justice in Ohio and being in possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
At Tuesday’s hearing, defense attorney Steve Wright said the victim had been walking in the middle of the street and his client did not see her until it was too late. Wright said Baird “freaked out” and panicked, which is why he left the scene.
Wright asked for two years’ probation to give the defendant a chance to take care of his pending charges in Ohio.
“There is no denying that what happened on the night is tragic,” Wright said. “My client has expressed his feelings about it. But when it comes down to it, it was an accident. He has done time in jail on this and is willing to pay a fine and do some probation time.”
“He still chose to leave,” Chiles said, interrupting Wright.
The defendant has served probation four times, two of which were revoked, Chiles added.
Assistant prosecutor Courtney Cremeans said given the defendant’s criminal history, he would not be a good candidate for alternative sentencing.
“A woman lost her life because of this,” she said. “While hitting her might have been an accident, it wasn’t an accident that he left and then drove the rental car back to Detroit to ditch it and evade police thereafter.”
The victim’s family did not speak at Tuesday’s hearing.
The defendant has about 100 days of credit in this case and will be eligible for parole soon.