A 20-year-old Mexico, Missouri man has officially been charged with murder in the second degree, among other charges, in the death of Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper James M. Bava, who was killed while on duty after a crash on August 28.
Serghei P. Comerzan was placed under arrest around 10 a.m. and a $100,000 cash only bond has been set by Audrain County Judge Linda Hamlett.
Comerzan reportedly was scheduled for a quick arraignment after his arrest and will appear on an arraignment docket of the Audrain County Associate Circuit Court at a date of the court’s choosing.
“This weekend, I met with the Bava family and informed them of my charging decisions,” said Audrain County Prosecutor Jacob Shellabarger in a press release. “While nothing will bring back James, the family wishes to acknowledge that the criminal case process will hopefully bring accountability to the man responsible for his death…My sympathy and the thoughts and prayers of many in our community and across our state and country are with the Bava family and the greater law enforcement community after Trooper Bava’s death.”
According to a probable cause statement, the late Trooper Bava was working “routine traffic enforcement” on Missouri Route FF when he met a motorcycle traveling at a high rate of speed.
He notified Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop F radio personnel that he checked the motorcycle’s speed at 105 m.p.h., turned around on it, and then said “he took off on me.”
After two attempts to reach Bava failed just minutes later, two emergency calls were received from passerby’s reporting a wrecked patrol car.
Two eyewitnesses reported seeing a “street bike” and saw the patrol car following it before the wreck.
“During his pursuit of Mr. Comerzan, Trooper Bava’s Dodge Charger left Highway FF, struck a ditch, a fence, and some trees, then caught fire,” Shellabarger noted in his press release. “Trooper Bava was killed in the crash. The investigation led to numerous witnesses who saw a motorcycle and the operator matching Comerzan’s motorcycle and his body type and clothing during the time period of the crash and in its aftermath, fleeing the area.”
The charges filed in-clude:
• Count One: Murder in the Second Degree – Murder in the Commission of a Felony. This is a Class A Felony, punishable from 10 years to life imprisonment. In the alternative, the State has charged Involuntary Manslaughter in the First Degree for Causing the Death of an Authorized Operator of an Emergency Vehicle, which is a Class B Felony, punishable from five to 15 years imprisonment.
• Count Two: Resisting a Lawful Stop – Creating a Substantial Risk of Serious Injury or Death. This is a Class D Felony, punishable from one day up to one year in the County ail or one year up to four years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
• Count Three: Resisting a Member of the Missouri State Highway Patrol in Discharge of His Official Duties. This is a Misdemeanor, punishable from one day up to one year in the County Jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
• Count Four: Careless and Imprudent Driving. This is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable from one day up to six months in the County Jail, and/or a fine of up to $500.
• Count Five: Exceeding the Speed Limit. This is a class B misdemeanor, with the same range of punishment as Count Four.
• Count Six: Failure to Register a Motor Vehicle with the Department of Revenue. This is a Class B misdemeanor, with the same range of punishment as Count Four.