Sacto 9-1-1
May 14, 2013
Driver guilty of second-degree murder in crash near Woodland

A Yolo County jury has found a Sacramento man guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a passenger in the vehicle he was driving in January 2012.

The jury also convicted 23-year-old Ryan Scott Baird of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with two prior convictions for driving under the influence, driving under the influence causing injury and driving with blood alcohol at or above .08 causing injury, according to a Yolo County District Attorney's Office news release. Killed in the crash was Robert Sunderland III.

In addition, the jury found Baird guilty of enhancements for causing great bodily injury to Oscar Saeed Rodriguez, causing great bodily injury with a coma to James Black and causing injury to multiple victims.

On Jan. 6, 2012, Baird and the other three men were attending a barbecue at James Black's house to celebrate his 21st birthday. All four got into Baird's 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse. Baird drove onto Interstate 5 at Main Street in Woodland and exited at County Road 102. Authorities calculated that the vehicle was traveling between 79 and 94 mph before the brakes locked, launching the car off the side of the road, where the vehicle rolled numerous time.

The three passengers were ejected from the car and Baird had to be cut out of the driver's seat. Sunderland died at the scene.

Black was in a coma for weeks and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury as well a multiple fractures to his pelvis and legs, according to the news release. He underwent numerous surgeries, and is still living in a rehabilitation facility and undergoing treatment for severe memory loss. Rodriguez suffered a broken arm that required surgery and a fractured back.

This was Baird's third DUI charge, officials said, and the second motor vehicle crash he had caused as a result of driving under the influence. In a breath test at the crash scene, Baird registered a blood alcohol level of .144 and a blood test done shortly thereafter showed a blood alcohol level of .18, as well as the presence of marijuana, according to the news release.

Officials said Baird had been warned and had acknowledged that driving under the influence was dangerous when he pleaded no contest in each of his two prior DUI cases.

Baird is to be sentenced June 25 by Yolo Superior Court Judge Janet Gaard, who presided over the trial.

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