- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - A Kernersville man has pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the death of an 11-year-old boy who was struck by a car while crossing a road to get on a school bus.

Billy Roger Bailey pleaded guilty in court in Winston-Salem on Monday to misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. Bailey was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 30 months of probation.

Hasani Wesley was killed Dec. 19, 2012.

A mistrial was declared in April after new evidence was found. That included whether the school bus driver had turned on her red lights and extended the stop arm before Bailey passed the bus.

Questions were also raised about how the school system investigated the case.

Baily originally was charged with involuntary manslaughter and passing a stopped school bus causing death.

The boy’s mother, Odina Wesley, criticized prosecutors for allowing Bailey to plead to the lesser charge after the earlier mistrial.

“The decision of the District Attorney Jim O’Neill to allow Roger Bailey to plead to a misdemeanor sends a dangerous message that in Forsyth County, you can pass a stopped school bus and kill a child and get slapped on the wrist with a misdemeanor charge,” she said.

O’Neill said he understands that Hasani’s family disagrees with the decision because he has children, too.

But the job of prosecutors is not simply to seek convictions, O’Neill said. He couldn’t turn a blind eye to new evidence.

“We make tough calls, not popular calls,” he said.

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