KERNERSVILLE, N.C. — Billy Roger Bailey was going about 46 mph in his Jeep Cherokee when the vehicle hit Hasani Wesley, a sixth-grader at East Forsyth Middle School, Trooper Brian K. Palmiter of the N.C. Highway Patrol testified Wednesday.
Based on witness statements, Palmiter said that Hasani was hit by the car and thrown about 125 feet, landing behind the school bus he was trying to catch about 6:50 a.m. Dec. 19, 2012.
Palmiter said that based on his investigation, Bailey’s Jeep Cherokee came to rest about 382 feet from where Hasani was hit, more than the length of a football field.
He said he saw no evidence that Bailey applied his brakes before he hit Hasani, who later died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Bailey, a minister with Cross Roads Ministry of Walkertown who lives on Old Hollow Road, is on trial in Forsyth Superior Court this week on involuntary manslaughter and passing a stopped school bus in connection to Hasani’s death.
Hasani, 11, had missed his school bus near his home on Shaddowfax Drive in Kernersville. The bus had traveled south on Old Hollow Road and turned around to head back north. Hasani was crossing the southbound lane of Old Hollow Road to reach the bus when he was hit.
At issue in the trial is whether the bus was stopped, with its stoparm down and red lights flashing, when Bailey passed it and hit Hasani.
In opening statements, Bailey’s attorney George Cleland argued that Bailey saw flashing amber lights – the bus’ warning lights – come on, but he was driving 45 mph and had already “committed to pass” the bus. Cleland said Bailey knew he had hit something but didn’t know what.
Palmiter testified that Bailey was asked twice what he was supposed to do when he saw a bus’ warning light come on and he acknowledged that he was supposed to slow down. When Bailey was asked whether he did slow down, he replied that he couldn’t recall, Palmiter said.
During a hearing outside the presence of the jury Wednesday, George Cleland IV, Bailey’s other attorney and Cleland’s son, repeatedly asked Palmiter about testimony from Stephanie Fulton, the school bus driver.
Cleland IV argued Fulton’s testimony contradicted the statements she gave to state highway troopers. In particular, Cleland IV said, Fulton gave contradictory statements about where Hasani was standing before he crossed the street to get to the bus.
Cleland IV asked Palmiter whether his conclusions about where Hasani was hit would change if Hasani was standing in a different place than where Fulton had initially said. Palmiter said the area of impact would essentially be the same.
Michael Anthony Gore, who was headed to work and arrived on the scene after the incident, testified that he heard Bailey admit that his car had hit Hasani and later tell a trooper that his car had hit Hasani but that someone else’s car struck Hasani first.
The trial will continue today and Bailey is expected to testify in his defense.