Spencer E. Baird appears in a recording of the teleconference sentencing hearing; inset is district Judge Joseph S. Skocelas.

Man jailed 20 days for crash that killed Plainwell postal carrier

Ryan Lewis, editor

A man who rear-ended a stopped postal carrier vehicle, ultimately killing its driver, was sentenced July 16 to 20 days jail.

Spencer Evan Baird, 36, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor moving violation causing death early in last week’s hearing, conducted by video conference.

District Court Judge Joseph S. Skocelas cited Baird’s problematic driving record in assigning jail time. He said Baird, whose record includes a 2002 third-degree retail fraud conviction, was the at-fault driver in one crash in 2014, two in 2015, all in Kalamazoo County, and another in 2019 in Allegan County.

“That shows this is someone who is an accident waiting to happen,” Skocelas said.

The latest crash occurred on 10th Street south of Carrie Avenue in Gun Plain Township. Sheila G. Rackley, 55, was found within the wreckage after it was extinguished. Baird was uninjured. He was arraigned on the charge in March.

Baird’s attorney Daniel S. Fricke said his client claimed to not recall the crash due to “amnesia, shock.”

Fricke said, “The events immediately preceding and the accident itself, he has no memory whatsoever of.”

Rackley's husband of 37 years, Jeffrey Rackley, said he misses his wife every day and said she had taken care of everyone in the family.

Skocelas said he was used to defendants on drugs claiming they had no recollection of crashes or other crimes.

“In this case, (Baird) gave a false exculpatory statement,” he said. “The physical evidence says that’s not what happened at all. He drifted off the roadway on a straight roadway and hit a vehicle that was totally off the road.”

The 20-day jail sentence was out of a maximum possible one year for the misdemeanor.

He also ordered one year of probation. Baird will receive 6 points on his driver’s license, which will be revoked for one year. He must pay the maximum $2,000 fine along with $525 court costs and fees, with credit for his $500 cash bond. He must also pay $2,918.16 in restitution to Jeffrey Rackley for wages lost from three weeks off work. He has one year to make payments on the balance.

For the full story, pick up a copy of the July 23, 2020, issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.

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