Judge to rule on motions in Joe Baird DUI case this morning

Stay tuned for the outcome of this morning’s court hearing.

VERO BEACH — The next chapter in the saga of the Driving Under the Influence case of County Administrator Joe Baird will be a hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday on pending motions filed by his attorney Bobby Guttridge. This hearing, orignally set for July 22, was delayed nearly a month when Judge David. C. Morgan granted a continuance in the case due to neither defense nor prosecuting attorney being ready to proceed. At that time, Morgan said he “fully intends” to try the case on August 24. He  curtly dressed down both attorneys for not being prepared to go to trial, but said “in all fairness” to Baird, he would grant the continuance. Guttridge requested the continuance due to the need for more time for discovery of evidence and for depositions of eye witnesses and an expert witness who had been out of town. The prosecutor agreed to the continuance because he is still compiling his own list of witnesses for the case. Judge Morgan requested that the attorneys agree upon redactions to the videotape evidence prior to the Aug. 19 hearing as the court would not be able to edit video on the spot. He also asked Guttridge to outline what further motions he would be filing. Guttridge indicated that he would be filing another motion to suppress evidence consisting of “statements and video that has not been subject to everybody’s knowledge.”When asked if he wanted to speak, Baird said nothing except to thank Morgan for granting the continuance.Baird was pulled over at about 10:30 p.m.  in May along the 600 block of 21st Street in Vero Beach and was asked to complete roadside sobriety exercises, the video of which has been released by the State Attorney’s Office and widely viewed on YouTube. He refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test, and was subsequently booked for DUI. Baird was returning from a Luau benefit he atteneded that evening for Youth Guidance.Guttridge has already filed a motion to suppress the traffic stop itself. According to Guttridge, Baird was originally stopped on the grounds that he was spotted speeding, but there was “no objective evidence” of radar being used to clock Baird’s speed. He claims the arresting officer only “paced” Baird over a two-block distance before stopping him, and that this distance would not have been sufficient to accurately determine how fast Baird was going.”You can’t pace a car in that short amount of time,” Guttridge said.  He plans to assert that it would have taken the officer following Baird’s Jeep a half mile to one mile to determine his speed without use of radar.Should the motion to suppress succeed, Guttridge said all other evidence related to the stop, including the video of the roadside sobriety test, could be subject to suppression. This motion and any others filed will be considered at the Aug. 19 hearing.

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