A man charged in connection to a crash that killed a Mid-Missouri trooper pleaded not-guilty in court Thursday.
20-year-old Serghei Comerzan, of Mexico, is charged with felony 2nd degree murder, felony resisting arrest and four other misdemeanors for the incident.
On Thursday Comerzan appeared in court for arraignment. Comerzan’s attorney had requested a bond reduction. The judge denied that request Thursday and raised Comerzan’s bond to a $250,000 cash only bond. Comerzan’s bond was originally set at $100,000.
25-year-old James Bava died after crashing his cruiser on August 28 in Audrain County near the Boone County line.MoDOT closed Route FF between County Road 989 and Route M for several hours after the crash at Highway FF and County Road 977. Corporal Scott White told ABC 17 News the patrol car for Trooper James Bava, 25, was the only vehicle at the scene.
Court documents ABC 17 News obtained show Bava was working a routine traffic enforcement on Missouri Route FF when he saw a motorcyclist traveling at a high rate of speed. The documents said Bava notified dispatch that he had checked the motorcyclist’s speed at 105 miles per hour. Bava apparently turned around to pursue the motorcyclist and told dispatch the driver took off.
A probable cause statement said dispatchers then tried to contact Bava several times via radio and through his cell phone without a response. It said around the same Audrain County dispatchers reported getting calls about a wrecked patrol vehicle in the area Bava had said he was looking for the motorcyclist. The probable cause statement said witnesses reported finding a body near the wrecked, burned patrol car.Emergency responders later arrived at the scene and confirmed Bava had been killed in the crash.
Court documents said during the crash investigation, authorities identified two eyewitnesses to the events leading up to the crash who were working in the area. One witness reported seeing the motorcyclist speed by, then seeing the trooper vehicle following him with lights and sirens on. That witness said the trooper vehicle then went into the tree line, flipped rolled and caught on fire.
The probable cause statement said a witness who the motorcycle had passed before Bava crashed provided a detailed description of the motorcycle and its rider. Authorities said this description and other information obtained in the investigation helped officers identify Comerzan as the motorcyclist.
The documents said Comerzan initially denied being on Missouri Route FF that day, but later admitted he was the rider Bava was pursuing. Comerzan apparently told investigators his motorcycle is fast and he could easily outrun a cop if he wanted to. The documents said Comerzan estimated his speed was probably 100 miles per hour when he drove past Bava and admitted he looked in his review mirror wondering if he would get a ticket after seeing Bava.
Comerzan is charged with 2nd degree murder, resisting arrest creating a substantial risk of serious injury, willfully resists or opposes a member of the patrol in the proper discharge of their duties, operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner, exceeding the posted speed limit, and failure to register a motor vehicle.
The last time a trooper from Troop F died in the line of duty was back in June of 1981. In that incident, Trooper Dennis Marriott was struck by a vehicle after exiting his patrol car for a traffic stop. Marriott died nearly two weeks later from the injuries he suffered in that crash.