BILLY ROGER BAILEY

Bailey

A Walkertown man who pleaded guilty five years ago in connection with the traffic death of a 11-year-old boy is running for a seat on the Walkertown Town Council.

Billy Roger Bailey, 53, of Main Street pleaded guilty in June 2014 to misdemeanor death by vehicle, the Winston-Salem Journal reported at the time. Bailey, a minister in Walkertown, was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter and passing a stopped school bus.

Bailey was accused of hitting Hasani Wesley with his Jeep on Dec. 19, 2012, while Hasani was crossing Old Hollow Road near Shaddowfax Drive northwest of Kernersville to board a school bus.

Bailey went to trial in 2014, but that case ended in a mistrial.

After Bailey pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, a judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail and 30 months probation.

Bailey, who filed Wednesday to run for the council, couldn’t be reached Friday for comment.

Rodney Guthrie, Bailey’s criminal defense attorney, also couldn’t be reached.

David Hough of Winston-Salem, the attorney for the Wesley family, declined to comment on Bailey’s candidacy because the family settled a wrongful-death lawsuit against Bailey earlier this year.

Hough had filed the lawsuit on behalf of Hasani’s parents against the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education and Bailey. The N.C. Court of Appeals threw out the claims against the school board, leaving Bailey as the remaining defendant in the lawsuit in Forsyth Superior Court.

Hasani’s parents, Odina and Norris Wesley, filed the wrongful-death lawsuit in December 2014, alleging that the school board failed to create safe school-bus routes and to properly supervise the school-bus driver, Stephanie Fulton, who had numerous traffic violations.

Bailey denied in court papers that he had texted or was using a cellphone when the incident happened. He also denied that he had a duty to exercise “extreme caution” — only a duty to “exercise the care of a reasonable and prudent person in the operation of his vehicle given the circumstances then existing.”

Bailey also said in court papers that he did not drive at an excessive speed.

Hough is pursuing claims against the school board regarding Hasani’s death with the N.C. Industrial Commission.

No hearing has been set.

Hough said he wasn’t aware that Bailey was running for public office in Walkertown.

Hasani was a sixth-grader at East Forsyth Middle School. On the morning he was hit, he had missed the school bus, which turned around on Old Hollow Road to pick him up across from his usual bus stop.

Bailey was driving his Jeep along Old Hollow Road when he passed the stopped bus and hit Hasani, throwing the boy 125 feet. Hasani later died from his injuries.

Hasani’s death sparked a push for new legislation that would increase penalties against drivers who illegally pass school buses. That led to a new state law called the Hasani N. Wesley School Bus Safety Act.

Tim Tsujii, the director of the Forsyth County Board of Elections, said Friday that Bailey is legally eligible to run for a seat on the town council. Bailey was convicted of a misdemeanor rather than a felony, so never lost his citizenship rights, including his right to vote, Tsujii said.

Others who have filed for the council as of Friday are incumbents Marilyn Martin and Wesley Hutchins, who are running for re-election. Non-incumbent Caroline Jones is also running.

The filing deadline is noon Friday, July 19.

In the Nov. 5 general election, voters will choose two candidates for two available seats on the council.

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jhinton@wsjournal.com 336-727-7299 @jhintonWSJ

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