Prosecutors say 11-year-old hit, killed at bus stop was no accident

Hasani Wesley

Hasani Wesley

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Hasani Wesley’s death was a tragedy but it wasn’t an accident, Assistant District Attorney Matt Breeding said in closing arguments this morning in the trial of Billy Roger Bailey.

Bailey, a pastor of Cross Roads Ministry in Walkertown, has been on trial the past week on charges of involuntary manslaughter and passing a stopped school bus in connection with Hasani’s death on Dec. 19, 2012. Hasani, a sixth-grader at East Forsyth Middle School, was hit while crossing the southbound lane of Old Hollow Road on his way to catch a school bus. Bailey was driving a 1999 Jeep Cherokee south on Old Hollow Road and hit Hasani about 6:50 a.m. that morning.

“It is dismissive and deceptive to call it an accident,” Breeding said. “Hasani Wesley no longer exists as a direct result of this defendant’s choice.”

Bailey told authorities that the bus’ yellow warning lights were on when he hit Hasani.

Breeding argued that even if the jury believes Bailey’s version of what happened, it doesn’t mean that what happened was an accident. Bailey could have slowed down or stopped when he saw the school bus, Breeding said.

Bailey had driven that stretch of Old Hollow Road for 20 years and lived a few miles down the road from where Hasani lived, Breeding said.

“How did he miss that little boy?” Breeding asked.

George Cleland, one of Bailey’s attorneys, said in closing arguments that under state law Bailey had no responsibility to slow down when he saw the bus’ yellow lights. The two witnesses that the defense called — Marilyn Martin and David Martin, who are not related — testified they saw yellow lights about the time Hasani was hit. Steve Farlow, a staff engineer with Accident Reconstruction Analysis Inc. in Raleigh, testified that the bus was stopped for 20 seconds before the flashing red lights came on and the stop arm came down.

Cleland zeroed in on those 20 seconds, wondering why the bus was stopped for that length of time before the lights turned red and the stop arm came down. He also said it was possible that Hasani could have run out into the road trying to catch the school bus.

“I don’t know if an 11-year-old boy is going to wait until the stop arm comes out,” Cleland said.

He said that Marilyn Martin is probably the most credible witness. But Assistant District Attorney Brian Taylor said in his closing argument that Martin never talked to any law-enforcement officials. Instead, she talked to Mayor Kenneth Davis of Walkertown — who also bailed Bailey out of jail — about the case. In the next few days, Cleland called Martin.

Taylor also went after Farlow’s testimony, saying that Farlow gave an opinion based on GPS data from the bus, even though he knew nothing about the GPS unit or the computer software that the GPS unit used. Farlow gave an opinion that fit very nicely into what Bailey’s defense was, Taylor said.

Breeding argued that Farlow’s opinion that the bus was stopped 20 seconds before the red lights came on didn’t make sense. For Farlow’s opinion to be true, it would mean that the school bus went from about 20 mph to a complete stop within two seconds. School bus driver Stephanie Fulton testified that she began slowing the bus down about 300 feet before she stopped the bus.

Cleland argued that it made no sense for students to be standing in the dark on the side of a highway where the speed limit is 45 mph. He also argued that Fulton appeared to change her testimony to fit with what he alleged were those last 20 seconds before the stop arm came down and the red lights began flashing.

He urged the jury not to sacrifice Bailey on the altar of public opinion but to find him not guilty of the charges.

Breeding said Bailey gave three versions of what happened, including saying at the scene that someone hit Hasani first, which was in direct contradiction of the physical evidence and the witness statements. Breeding pointed out Bailey testified that he prayed over Hasani for about 40 seconds after the incident and told Hasani’s mother, Odina Wesley, that he had hit her son.

Odina Wesley testified Monday that she never spoke to Bailey and didn’t know his name until she saw it on the news.

Judge Ronald Spivey gave the jury instructions after the closing arguments. The jury will begin deliberations, which are expected to continue through the day.

24 comments

    • Al

      An accident is something that cannot be avoided, such as a blown tire or mechanical failure.This was not an accident. It was negligence and irresponsibility on the part of Billy Roger Bailey. Mayor Kenneth Davis also should never have been involved in any way and the witness, Marilyn Martin, should have spoken to the police and not the mayor. That part sounds very fishy. At some point there should be an investigation of both of those people also.

      • FaithC

        Al, Eyewitnesses said the Stop Arm and Red Lights were not on, only Flashing Yellow lights. Accident do happen Al look at you. Had your dad used a condom or your mom swallowed you would not be here.

      • Al

        Anon, an investigation as to why she spoke to the mayor instead of the police and what the mayor’s ties to the defendant are. A politician should not be involved with a criminal investigation unless it is their own.

        Nathan, don’t just assume that the mayor is a lawyer. There is no mention of that in the article. If Marilyn Martin felt the need to speak to a lawyer just to give an eyewitness account to an event that she had no fault in, that does look suspicious.

  • Rednecks shouldn't be allowed to own computers

    Yellow lights mean slow the eff down, Jesus. Not speed up and PASS A STOPPING SCHOOL BUS. Who freaking does that?! Someone who thinks their time is more valuable than a child’s life. I hope this LYING jerk gets the book thrown at him.

    • Anon

      Except he wasn’t speeding to begin with. He didn’t do anything illegal. The stop was inherently unsafe in that the bus driver allowed the child to get on the bus on the wrong side of the road, early in the morning when it was still dark outside.

  • Tim Hamberstan

    Marilyn Martin is a former councilman for the Town of Walkertown. Ain’t if funny that she talks to the mayor and not the police? She should be charged with leaving the scene of a accident. It wouldn’t be the first time politicians were corrupt and I am sure it won’t be the last. Walkertown is full of corruption!

  • NobodyAtAll

    So Hasani had to cross the highway to get on the bus? I remember that students would stand back off of the shoulder and wait..The bus would come to a complete stop and you would still wait until you got the signal from the bus driver before entering the highway to cross..If that is the case, then it would be bus driver responsibility first..

    • t

      The bus driver’s testimony differs from her initial statement to law officers on the scene. Twenty several bonds with no red lights is an extremely long time. It seems the bus driver has at least some responsibility.

  • The One

    A coarse in defensive driving may have stopped this, something half the people driving should take. This man is guilty of being stupid and in a hurry. He is liable for what he did.

  • NCnative

    Living on this road I can say with certainty that no one abides by the speed limit. Within the past month there have been two pretty bad wrecks just from people not paying attention and/or speeding, one involving a vehicle with small children. Something should be done about the speed limit on this stretch of road. I’m not saying the driver, the school bus driver, or the child is at fault. This was a tragic accident that might have been avoided had everyone been paying attention, but due to unknown circumstances a bright young child lost his life, his parents constantly asking why us and what ifs, and a man has to live the rest of his life replaying the events of the day and with the demons that brings.

  • Nathan

    I would assume the kernersville mayor is a lawyer and that is why martin spoke with him. She is probably neighbors with the defendant and doesn’t feel he is guilty. Yes, knowing him helps foster that sense of innocence! Anyway she probably spoke to the mayor first to make sure she didn’t say anything that could be misconstrued by the prosecution. The DA doesn’t like it, but heed her actions. You should ALWAYS speak to a lawyer before speaking to law enforcement. ALWAYS!

  • SherryB

    I lived on this road for nearly 30 years. This was an accident. I too have seen buses with yellow lights but no arm or red flashing lights to have you stop. Yellow means to prepare to stop but going 45+mph thats nearly impossible unless you want to wreck your vehicle or get rear-ended by the car behind you.. The boy had missed the bus on the first pass was the reason he was even crossing the road to catch it on the return trip. But its never the fault of anyone except for the driver.

  • Tim Hamberstan

    The Kernersville Mayor is a lawyer but Marilyn Martin spoke to Doc Davis, the Walkertown Mayor and he is not a lawyer. So if you see someone kidnap a child Nathan, either your child or another child, you are going to call your attorney before you call the cops???

    Read the entire article before you comment.

  • Courtney

    “Bailey had no responsibility to slow down when he saw the bus’ yellow lights” um really? So it’s ok to pass a bus because it was only supposedly using caution lights? I don’t know who is more of an idiot the defendant or his attorney. I hope this guy gets punished because I see this kind of stuff every day and am so glad my son if fortunate enough not to have to ride the school bus.

  • 2Cents

    Another DA witch hunt. That’s all this is. It was an accident. Sad, tragic, and horrible. But an accident. TOO MANY factors involved for a manslaughter conviction. Unbelievable that they even brought this to trial.

    And, for the Walkertown Mayor piece of the puzzle…..what difference does that make? last time I checked, and yes, I live in Walkertown….but Doc Davis is just a regular man who happens to be the mayor. He doesn’t wear a cape and a crime fighter’s mask! This case is not about the Walkertown Mayor.

  • Tim Hamberstan

    You are correct 2cents it isn’t about the Walkertown Mayor, it’s just funny that Marilyn Martin only came forward AFTER Doc bailed him out and she didn’t tell the cops what she saw but Bailey’s attorney called her. Is she a credible witness, NO.

    • 2Cents

      That’s a fair assesment, T.H. Perhaps her statement could be construed as not beeing credible under those circumstances. That said, there is still the issue of the altrenate bus stop, the red lights versus yellow lights, the arm being down or not, the bus driver changing her story, the other motorists’ statement who came up on the accident, the GPS expert, and so many other pieces of information. I just dont see prosecuting a case like this. I dont see any justice in any possible outcome for anyone involved.

  • Randy Jessup

    Hmmm seems that this is a clear case of bashing a public figure over something that while may have been avoidable was clearly not intentional and really not careless….. The very definition of an accident. Bash Christians at every turn and Christian leaders doubly so.

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