The state Superior Court Monday affirmed the 25-to-50-year sentence of a Morgantown, W.Va., man convicted in Greene County Court in the 2012 death of a Monongalia County sheriff’s deputy.
Jerod Green appealed the January decision of Greene County Judge William Nalitz, seeking to have his third-degree murder conviction overturned in the death of Sgt. Michael Todd May, 41.
Nalitz sentenced Green, 37, originally from Oklahoma, to 18 to 36 years for third-degree murder; 5 to 10 years consecutively for homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence; and 2 to 4 years consecutively for fleeing or eluding a police officer while DUI and crossing a state line.
Additionally, Greene received a 5- to 10-year concurrent sentence for homicide by vehicle and 2- to 4-year concurrent sentences on other DUI-related charges.
The jury found May’s death was the direct result of his police vehicle being struck by Green’s Silverado pickup truck on Interstate 79 in Perry Township Feb. 18, 2012.
West Virginia sheriff’s deputies pursued Green after he fled from a traffic stop involving a hit-and-run accident that occurred earlier that same evening on Easton Hill Road in Monongalia County, W.Va., where Green’s truck struck a car driven by Skylar Johnson, 19, of Morgantown. When police pulled Green over, he denied hitting Johnson’s vehicle and then admitted he was there but it was not his fault. When an officer reached inside Green’s truck to turn off the ignition, Green hit the gas and pulled off with the officer’s arm inside the window. Police began a pursuit of Green’s truck as it traveled north on Route 100, onto Route 19 north into Pennsylvania and then entered the Interstate 79 on-ramp at Mt. Morris.
It was just south of the on-ramp that Green’s truck collided with May’s marked police vehicle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee. May died as a result of injuries sustained from the impact.
In his appeal to the high court, Green argued the commonwealth failed to show causation, meaning the fatal collision would not have occurred had May not ventured into the southbound lanes of Interstate 79; there was insufficient evidence of malice to support third-degree murder; and there was insufficient evidence of homicide by vehicle was driving under the influence.
“Contrary to Greene’s assertion, Sergeant May’s death was not ‘entirely attributable to other factors.’ The evidence demonstrated a causal connection between Green’s continuous flight from police officers, while intoxicated, at high speeds and in violation of multiple Motor Vehicle Code provisions, and Green’s crashing of his vehicle into the police vehicle of Sergeant May, while the vehicle’s emergency light were activated, resulting in Sergeant May’s death,” the court said.
Green argued May was outside his jurisdiction and had not been in hot pursuit. He also claimed the blood test, which determined his blood-alcohol content to be 0.189 percent, violated his rights because he had not been given his Miranda warning prior to being handcuffed and placed in a police car.
Moreover, Green claims the jury should not have been told about his four prior drunken driving convictions.
“Here, evidence of Green’s prior convictions formed an essential part of the history and development of facts relevant to Green’s flight from police officers in West Virginia,” the court said.
In their 24-page opinion, the judges said that the jury, by its verdict, demonstrated it “did not credit Green’s version of the events. We may not substitute our own judgment for that of the jury.”