Defense to present Baird’s side in DUI case today

VERO BEACH — Defense attorney Bobby Guttridge’s challenge today is to counter testimony and evidence presented on Tuesday that the prosecution claimed showed County Administrator Joe Baird was driving while impaired by alcohol when stopped by police on May 16.

Guttridge said he plans to call four or five witnesses to testify that Baird was not impaired when he left the Youth Guidance luau fundraiser shortly after 10 p.m.

The first witness yesterday, a long-time friend, also testified as to Baird’s “normal faculties,” saying that Baird was quite gangly, suggesting the swaying that police officers may have seen was Baird’s normal gait. Expected to testify today are Barbara Schlitt Ford, who runs the Youth Guidance agency and hosted the fundraiser. Baird’s girfriend, Karen Deigl, is also on the witness list. Deigl is reported to have picked up Baird’s Jeep Cherokee and driven it home after he was arrested so police would not have to impound the car.

Guttridge said he has no medical providers or expert witnesses set to testify as to Baird’s claim on the video shown to the jury Tuesday that vertigo made it difficult for him to perform several of the roadside sobriety tests after he was stopped and pulled over into the Radio Shack parking lot just west of 6th Avenue on Miracle Mile in Vero Beach.

It is unclear whether or not Baird will take the stand in his own defense.

Testimony is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. and the trail may very well go to jury today for deliberation and a verdict.

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