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Posted July 31, 2012 | comments 10 Comments

Man acquitted of attempted murder of deputies

By Joe Beck - jbeck@nvdaily.com

A Warren County Circuit Court jury Tuesday acquitted a man of two counts of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer and several lesser charges.

Tony L. Baird, 45, walked out of the courtroom toward life as a free man after also being acquitted of two counts of attempted malicious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer. He had been accused of provoking a sheriff's deputy into shooting him by ramming the squad car of another deputy with his pickup truck.

The jury convicted Baird of felony eluding of a police officer and destruction of property. Judge Dennis L. Hupp gave him credit for time served in corrections facilities since he was taken into custody in May 2011. Hupp also imposed a total of $5,271 in fines and court costs on Baird and suspended his driver's license for 30 days. The fines were $2,500 for felony eluding and $500 for destruction of property.

Defense attorney Scott Hook of Warrenton said he was pleased with the verdicts that took less than two hours of deliberation after two days of testimony.

"It's an incredibly fair verdict, and we appreciate the effort of the jury," Hook said.

Hook said Baird, who sat through the trial in a suit and tie, has family in Arizona, but was unsure of whether his client would be joining them. Baird was living in Fauquier County at the time of the incident.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Nicholas Manthos had little to say after the trial.

"The jury spoke," Manthos said.

Manthos and Hook agreed during the trial that Baird was drunk the night of May 4, 2011 when he rammed a police cruiser driven by Sheriff's Office Deputy Joshua Noland as Noland tried to exit the vehicle.

"He was drunk, people, very drunk," Hook told the jury.

Deputy Robert Mumaw fired at Baird's GMC pickup as it drove off after hitting Noland's car at the intersection of Chapman Road and U.S. 340. Authorities said Baird was driving toward Mumaw and attempting to run him over when the deputy fired.

Authorities say Baird was arrested after driving the pickup south on U.S. 340 and crashing into a rock wall about a quarter mile away. Baird was taken to the hospital at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for treatment of a gunshot wound in the arm.

Manthos and Hook also agreed that Baird wanted to commit suicide by jumping off Gooney Creek Bridge hours before the confrontation with the deputies. Hook said Baird was despondent about family strife and was afraid he was losing his wife and children.

"Tony's intent was to commit suicide by jumping off the bridge," Hook said.

Manthos and Hook also agreed that Baird changed his mind sometime in the evening. Hook said Baird stopped his car at the site of the confrontation with the deputies because he didn't want to die as a drunken driver on the road.

"He wants to sober up until he gets off that bridge," Hook said in explaining his client's actions.

Hook said Baird's ramming of the squad car was no different from incidents frequently seen in the parking lots of bars around closing times when drunken drivers hit parked cars unintentionally and drive off.

Manthos told the jury in his closing arguments that Baird lost his nerve before he could carry out his plan and instead chose to do something that would goad police into killing him.

Manthos said the evidence, including videotape from the police cruiser, showed Baird deliberately rammed Noland's car in the hope of provoking a confrontation that would lead to police shooting him.

"Suicide by cop. You all know that's been the commonwealth's theme throughout this trial," Manthos said.

Manthos rejected Hook's assertion that Baird pulled off near the bridge to sober up. Instead, Baird "wimped out" on jumping off the bridge and chose another method of suicide, Manthos said.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it's clear he wanted the officers to do what he wouldn't do himself," Manthos said.

10 Comments | Leave a comment

    Which was it? Did he fire as it drove off OR did he fire as he was driving towards him?
    And the story the Commonwealth's attorney was stating doesn't make much sense, to me. At least by this story as it was written. No wonder he got off most of the charges.

    Next time there is a murder and the public starts screaming about why the murderer wasn't in jail, you can probably thank a jury like this. This guy tried to kill two cops and he just walked out of the courtroom. What a travesty!!

    Agree, hopefully this slug joins his family in Arizona and leaves the state a safer place.

    We were not in court and didn't hear all of testimony but this case doesn't pass the smell test. We are on a path to no where with liberal courts, judges and juries. Governments role is to protect it's citizens, 'caught and release' justice is not good for law biding citizens.

    We need help out here to survive against drunks and felons who are let go with the words of slick attorneys and liberal judges.

    No, this is what happens when you over charge. If you want to watch it happen all over again, wait for the Burrell case to go to trial unless our dundering Commonwealth attorney reduces the charges to something reasonable. Attempted murder in either of these cases seems a little excessive, based on what I have seen, and in this case the jury agreed. Don't get me wrong, both of these individuals should go away for a long time, but you have to be a good enough attorney to prosecute the right charges.

      The Burrell thread has 35 post and I am the only one that seems to realize that attempted capital murder is not going to happen. The police charge the individual. I am sure that emotion can factor in when it's one of their own. It is the prosecuter's job to decide if the evidence is there to support the charge. I have to wonder if the prosecuter lets friendship or support get in the way of deciding whether a charge is convictable or not. That being said, this case here is a little different. When a vehicle heads toward an officer it is a life threat. Although I agree that there was no way to prove that the guy here(that looks like he used to host The Man Show) was trying to kill the cop, if the cop would have been able to draw his weapon earlier, this dude probably would have been shot through the windshield and it would not have went to trial.

    Oh, so trying to run-down an officer w/ your car is not "attempted murder"? And, "...He was drunk..." is the defense to these despicable behaviors?! Come on people, let's get these drunk, idiots off the road and into cells to have time to get a clue. Maybe if you jurors meet this drunkard on the road one night, you may be sorry for allowing him to walk free!

    no one can really comment on this no one knows what was really going on in the court room.what did the lawyers have to prove this case on both sides...you have to judge by what is provided to the court by both lawyers..was you there to know what all was said in the court room to see why he only got charged with 2 counts....

    I am starting to wondering why we even have a court system because the ones that need to be in jail get out. I am shocked that someone has not said he has mental problems.

    I am sure that this man will end up hurting someone or killing someone. I hope that everyone on the jury is told of this so they know who they set free after he tried to kill two of our deputies.

    Thank You to the W.C.S.O

      Let's publish the names and addresses of the jurors and provide telephone numbers for them and the presiding judge so citizens can express their outrage directly. What about public protests outside their residences? This would be done elsewhere. Why not here?

    So because he was drunk he is not being held responsible? That is the way I read this. When alcohol makes you violent, it is not a one time thing. If he drinks again he will probably become violent again. Next time he is more likely to hurt someone since he will think he can get away with it.

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