Jury acquits man in 2015 crash death of Mo. trooper

Trooper James Bava wrecked his patrol car after observing a motorcyclist commit a traffic violation and chasing him


By Joel Currier
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Jurors on Friday acquitted a Mexico, Mo., man accused of causing the death of a Missouri state trooper in 2015.

It was the second trial for Serghei Comerzan, 23. A mistrial was declared in the first trial in May 2017 when jurors couldn't reach a verdict.

Trooper James Bava, 25, crashed and died on a hilly, two-lane highway. (Photo/Missouri State Highway Patrol)
Trooper James Bava, 25, crashed and died on a hilly, two-lane highway. (Photo/Missouri State Highway Patrol)

Prosecutors reduced the charge from second-degree murder to manslaughter shortly before the second trial began Monday in St. Charles County Circuit Court.

They said Comerzan should have known a state trooper was chasing him Aug. 28, 2015, when Trooper James Bava, 25, crashed and died on a hilly, two-lane highway in rural Audrain County. The defense lawyer argued Comerzan could not have known Bava was trying to stop Comerzan's motorcycle.

The jury began deliberations about 11:30 a.m. Thursday, officials said.

Bava, 25, formerly of St. Charles County, wrecked his patrol car on Highway FF after observing a motorcyclist commit a traffic violation and chasing him. Authorities have said Comerzan was traveling at least 105 mph when Bava tried to stop him, lost control and crashed. Bava was ejected and pinned under the patrol car with a piece of wreckage lodged in his armpit. The patrol car burned up after the crash.

Comerzan's case was moved in 2016 from Audrain County to St. Charles County.

In a statement issued Friday, Highway Patrol Col. Sandra Karsten, said "This has been a very difficult period of time for James' family, friends and for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. I want to express my thanks to all our employees as well as the law enforcement personnel who have invested countless hours in this investigation, including the Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services, and to every citizen who offered their help and support in any way. I am very grateful. The Patrol will continue to support the Bava Family in any way that we can.”

©2018 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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