Man gets sentence for vehicular homicide

Friday, June 11, 2010

In addition to sentencing Tiffany Davis, Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler accepted guilty pleas and imposed sentences last week on Michael J. Stinnett, Wesley David Cloud, Aureliano Baltazar, John Justin McCall, and Jeremy Lee Ross.

* Aureliano Baltazar, 19, of Huntsville, pleaded guilty to a charge of vehicular homicide and was sentenced to nine years. As a "violent" offender, Baltazar will serve 100 percent of the sentence. He was represented by the Public Defender's Office.

The victim, who died at the scene of the wreck on Interstate 65 near Exit 27, was his uncle, Jose Baltazar, 22. The report in the case file by medical examiner Steve Calahan states, "The vehicle was traveling southbound and crossed the median. It appears that the car clipped the north side of the exit bridge for the northbound lane and then spun the passenger's side into the bridge which is where most of the impact occurred." Calahan gave the cause of death as "multiple blunt force injuries."

The case file also contains a copy of the Tennessee Uniform Traffic Crash Report taken at Vanderbilt (where Aureliano was air-lifted) by Trooper Will Matsunga of the Highway Patrol. Aureliano told the trooper he had been working at the Casa Blanca Restaurant in Huntsville for three months, had learned to drive three years ago, owned the Toyota Corolla and drove it every day. When asked if there was anything wrong with the car, Aureliano responded, "The brakes are bad," and said the accident happened when he was "going straight and started to brake." According to Matsunga's report, Aureliano did not know what road he was on, which direction he was heading, or how fast he was traveling, though he did say he and his uncle were returning to Huntsville from Nashville.

* Stinnett, 28, of Maple Street, or Moriah Street depending on which record is viewed, pleaded guilty to especially aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, and vandalism. Crigler sentenced him to 10 years, six years, and four years, respectively, but ruled that the terms should be served at the same time, not one after the other. As a "standard" offender, Stinnett will have to serve 30 percent of the 10 years before he is eligible for parole. Four other charges on the original seven-count indictment were dismissed.

Stinnett allegedly beat up his former girlfriend, whose younger son is his child, after breaking in to her home about 4 a.m. Oct. 31.

"He would have killed me," the woman eventually told a law enforcement officer who quoted her in a public record. During the incident, the woman dialed 911, but Stinnett got her cell phone and told the 911 dispatcher that everything was fine, thus delaying law enforcement's response to the incident. Documents in Stinnett's case file include the victim's medical records from Centerstone, which state that she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and becomes "panicky and tearful" if she meets any of Stinnett's family or friends. Stinnett was represented by John Norton of Shelbyville.

* Cloud, 37, of John Lunn Road or Milltown Road, pleaded guilty to introduction of contraband into a penal institution, promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, and failure to appear. Crigler sentenced him to five years, three years, and 18 months, to run consecutively. As a "standard" offender, Cloud will serve 30 percent of nine years and six months, or just under three years, before becoming eligible for parole. Cloud has a drug-related record of convictions in North Carolina, and Rutherford and Lawrence counties, dating back to 1992. According to documents in his case file, when Cloud was arrested on Aug. 13, 2009, he had Xanax, pseudoephedrine tablets, tubing, batteries and rolling papers and told law enforcement officials that he was going to deliver the items to another person and they were going to use them to "cook" methamphetamine. The "introduction of contraband" charge originated when Cloud was being booked into jail on April 30, 2009, after an arrest for driving on a revoked license. During a search, jailers found both marijuana and meth on his person. Cloud was represented by Martha Durocher.

* McCall, 38, of Colbert Hollow Road, pleaded guilty to abuse of a child under six, and also to a charge of failure to appear. According to the affidavit of complaint signed by Marshall County Sheriff's Detective Bart Fagan, between Feb. 17 and 19, 2009, McCall "did strike his five-year-old son in the face, causing it to bruise." When the warrant was read to him, according to public record, McCall told Fagan the child fell off the bed and this caused the bruises. Two days later, McCall changed his story and told the detective his wife had caused the injuries. After being indicted by the grand jury, McCall disappeared from the County, leading to the failure to appear charge. He was eventually arrested in another state and extradited back to Tennessee at a cost of $602.72.

Crigler sentenced McCall to four years on the abuse charge and two years on the failure to appear, to be served consecutively. As a "multiple" offender, McCall will have to serve 35 percent of six years before he is eligible for parole. His previous convictions were in Dupage County, Ill. for theft and burglary in 1989, and criminal sexual abuse in 1994. Jheri Beth Rich was McCall's court-appointed attorney.

* Ross, 28, of Sterling Heights, Mich., was also extradited, but his crime dates back almost nine years, to July 2001. Represented by local attorney Steve Bowden, Ross pleaded guilty to burglary and theft. He admitted breaking in to the Chapel Hill veterinary practice of Dr. Greg Harris and taking $100 cash, plus the drugs ketamine and diazepam. According to documents in his case file, Ross said he was in the "Rave Scene" in Nashville, and broke in with two other people to steal as much "K" as they could find. Ketamine has a legitimate use as a veterinary and human anesthetic, but is used illicitly for its short-term hallucinogenic effect.

The case file includes Ross' statement, in which he writes, "I am a totally different person now that has a family and a great life ahead of me. I have a wonderful wife and two sons and love them very much."

Crigler sentenced Ross to three years probation for the burglary and 11 months 29 days for the theft. The judge ordered Ross to pay $200 per month until he had made restitution of $1,281 to Harris, and also repaid the $668 cost of extradition. Ross also has a case in Giles County for a similar break-in at the Giles County Animal Clinic, and it was the Giles County warrant he was arrested on.