Trooper's supervisor and Comerzan's family friend testifies in second day of trial
ST. CHARLES —
Multiple investigators with the Missouri State Highway Patrol testified Tuesday morning in the second day of trial for Serghei Comerzan.
The 22-year-old faces several charges, including second-degree murder in the death of Trooper James Bava in August of 2015.
Sergeant Doug McPike gave nearly two hours of testimony on his relationship with Comerzan, his role as Bava's supervisor, and what he did the day of the deadly crash.
"I see a lot of young men and women, see them as a trooper; I mentored them - They are like children to me; Bava was no different," McPike said, emotional on the stand.
McPike testified he drove from his home in Audrain County to Bava's parents home in Lake Saint Louis the night of Bava's death. McPike said he went to answer any questions the family might have.
McPike told jurors Comerzan was also a family friend of his. His son and Comerzan grew up together, he said. He testified investigators called him the night of Bava's death to speak with Comerzan at the sheriff's office in Audrain County.
Jurors watched a video of McPike's conversation with Comerzan that night at the sheriff's office. After a small talk about family, Comerzan's job and his motorcycle, McPike asked Comerzan if he was riding on Route FF that morning. Comerzan said he was not, and told him he took different roads to get to work that morning.
McPike secured Comerzan's signatures for seizure of the motorcycle as well as a search of his cell phone. Comerzan told investigators where the motorcycle was in Callaway County and agreed to take them to it.
In the video, Comerzan noted his first time on a motorcycle was with McPike and his family at the Lake of the Ozarks years back.
Comerzan told McPike he had just sold his car and was planning on selling his motorcycle, so he and a friend coordinated to work on it at the friend's house in Millersburg. He told McPike they had it planned the week before.
Interwoven in the conversation, McPike asked Comerzan multiple times if he was on FF at any time that day. Comerzan maintained he took Route ZZ from Mexico to Route Z to Route C to the Lake of the Woods exit in Columbia.
McPike testified it's not possible to confuse those routes with Route FF.
In the video, Comerzan told McPike he didn't like how troopers had dealt with him that day.
"I don't like how they're jumping to conclusions; they're being jumpy," he told McPike. "[A trooper] came in my house and just jumped to conclusions."
"We're hurting and we're struggling right now," McPike said to Comerzan regarding Bava's death. "I owe it to him to find out what happened," McPike told him.
After the video played, McPike testified Comerzan had lied to him a total of six times in the interview. He also said Comerzan provided investigators with the wrong pass code to his phone that night.
"I cared about Serghei," McPike testified. "I still care about Serghei."
In a separate interrogation video shown to jurors, Comerzan was seen admitting to Cpl. Darren Hasleg that he was on FF that morning. He admitted to seeing a trooper's tail lights.
"Of course I had guilt," Comerzan said in the video to investigators. "I didn't do nothing to cause him to do that, though."
An expert witness, Computer Crimes investigator Corporal Patrick Sublette testified about information found in Comerzan's cell phone. Sublette testified he found two text messages Comerzan had sent related to the crash. One said, "that's crazy man, no trooper chased me," while the other read, "crazy, who would go that fast?" according to Sublette.
Sublette also testified Comerzan did a web search of 'Mexico news' the afternoon of the crash, and loaded articles regarding the crash onto this phone.
Sublette testified Bava's computer used to issue citations and assist in the video recording process survived the crash. Sublette said the computer was likely thrown from the vehicle before the crash, which investigators said engulfed the car in flames. Sublette displayed the laptop and its hard drive, which showed hardly any damage. Sublette said investigators could not find any video on the computer from the day of the crash.