A Yolo County jury found a former Davis man guilty of second-degree murder and other felonies Monday in connection with an alcohol-fueled crash in Woodland that killed one of his friends and injured two others.
Ryan Scott Baird, 23, faces a state prison sentence of up to 29 years to life as a result of the verdicts, which culminated a two-week trial in Yolo Superior Court. In addition to the murder charge, the jury convicted Baird of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury and/or death.
Each of the charges carried enhancements alleging infliction of great bodily injury and the involvement of multiple victims. Sentencing is set for June 25 before Judge Janet Gaard.
The Jan. 6, 2012, crash marked Baird’s third drunken-driving incident — following DUI convictions in Sacramento County in 2009 and Yolo County in 2010 — and prompted Yolo County prosecutors to seek the second-degree murder charge because, they said, the prior matters would have heightened Baird’s awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence.
“It’s a sad case, because he he’s had so many chances and so many warnings,” Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor, who prosecuted the case, said after the verdicts. “I just hope that he gets the message now.”
Authorites said Baird, a 2007 graduate of Davis High School, was partying with three friends — one of whom was celebrating his 21st birthday — when they piled into Baird’s Mitsubishi Eclipse and headed south on Interstate 5 in Woodland.
Baird reportedly was taking the County Road 102 exit at a high rate of speed when his car failed to negotiate a curve in the offramp, causing the vehicle to roll several times down a grassy embankment. Three unrestrained passengers were thrown from the wreckage, including 25-year-old Robert Dale Sunderland III of Woodland, who died at the scene.
Two other passengers, Woodland residents Oscar Saeed Rodriguez Lupercio, 22, and James Dakota Lee Black, 21, were hospitalized with major injuries. Baird also was hurt in the crash, arriving at his arraignment hearing in a wheelchair.
His attorney, Richard Dudek, expressed disappointment in the jury’s verdict Monday.
“Everything about this case is very sad,” Dudek said. “I just wish I had been able to get the jurors to understand the law better. I don’t think they understood murder.”
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene