Bailey charged with vehicular homicide

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A Lemitar man who allegedly crashed his vehicle into another on the interstate while driving drunk Sept. 4 and killed a woman was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Socorro Magistrate Court, but the hearing was continued.

A news release issued Sept. 5 by the state Department of Public Safety reports Birthe Rasmussen Moehring, 65, of Berlin, Germany, was killed in the crash.

Court records indicate Keith Bailey, 36, of Lemitar, was charged with homicide by vehicle, DWI related, a third-degree felony; leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a fourth-degree felony; and driving while under the influence of alcohol, his fifth DWI offense, a fourth-degree felony.

Socorro County Sheriff's Department Deputy William Armijo said before the crash happened, the DWI compliance office called the sheriff's department advising that Bailey may have been drinking. Compliance office staff were concerned Bailey might pick up his young child while driving in an inebriated condition.

Bailey had to report to the compliance office for supervised probation as part of a sentence handed down this spring. He had been convicted of stealing radios from the county jail and broadcasting nonsense over police frequencies.

Armijo said he was headed toward Bailey's home in Lemitar when dispatch advised an accident had occurred near mile post 167 on Interstate 25 involving a small green car and a white Chevrolet pickup, which Bailey was known by the deputy to drive. The pickup had left the scene.

Armijo saw the accident, where New Mexico State Police had already responded, and he continued up the road in search of the white pickup. The deputy found Bailey and his damaged white pickup pulled over about 6 miles north of the crash. Along with Bailey, a witness in a flatbed truck who had seen the crash and a Farmington Police Department captain were present.

Armijo said he first checked Bailey's pickup to make sure the man's child was not inside which the child was not. He said Bailey was impaired, so he arrested him for DWI, later learning the accident had been fatal to a passenger in the green car.

Armijo said once at the Socorro County Detention Center, Bailey refused to take a breath test or blood test to determine his level intoxication. He said Bailey was also crying.

"He was just wasted," Armijo said. "'Highly intoxicated' would be the term."

Armijo said state police obtained a warrant to draw Bailey's blood.

According to the statement of probable cause filed in Magistrate Court, state police were dispatched to the crash about 3:37 p.m. Sept. 4. A green 1996 Toyota Camry had been struck from behind, sustaining heavy damage. Moehring, a passenger in the back seat of the green car, was killed, and another back seat passenger was injured. The remaining two in the vehicle, the driver and front seat passenger, were not injured.

The NMSP crash reconstruction team investigated the accident, according to the statement of probable cause, and reported both the green car and white truck had been traveling in the right lane headed north on the interstate when the truck hit the car from behind. Bailey allegedly failed to render aid or remain on the scene, but continued driving north until he had to stop because the truck had lost so much transmission fluid and its left front tire was rubbing against the front bumper.

The statement of probable cause reports NMSP collected tail lamp pieces from the green car that had been found in the white truck's grill.

Court records indicate 7th Judicial District Attorney Clint Wellborn was recused from the case on the basis of a conflict of interest, and prosecution will be handled by the 4th Judicial District Attorney's office. SCSD Undersheriff Les Torres explained Bailey and Wellborn have been friends for many years.

At the time of the accident, Bailey was on probation for an incident April 12 when he had jammed police radio frequencies with a prank broadcast. He had been fired from the Socorro County Detention Center not long before the prank broadcast incident and had taken police radios with him.

Bailey was convicted May 16 in Magistrate Court on misdemeanor charges of resisting an officer, impersonating a peace officer and interference with communications, as well as a petty misdemeanor charge of tampering with evidence. He was sentenced May 22 to 120 days' probation on each count and ordered to pay $232 in probation and court costs, according to the Magistrate Court case docket.