image
Palace Chrysler-Jeep

'This is so final'


Family sees justice but grief strikes fresh as life sentence handed down



shadow
shadow
May 19, 2010 - It was like saying good-bye all over again.

"This is so final," said Ellen Harrington outside the courtroom after her son's killer was sentenced to life in prison. "Having the trial go on kept him alive."

Brian Bailo died March 9, 2009, after he was shot in the head by a man demanding money.

Witness Mike Rathnow, who was engaged, and now married to Bailo's sister, testified he and Bailo were working together and stopped to pick up lunch at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant in Pontiac.

Rathnow said he heard the man demand money, and heard Bailo say, "You'll have to shoot me."

DeWayne Kawon Williams, an 18-year-old Pontiac resident, pulled the trigger.

A lifetime Lake Orion resident and owner of Lake Orion Landscaping, Bailo died a short time later. He was 31.

Both of Bailo's parents addressed the court before sentencing Thursday.

"Brian never begrudged anyone anything," said Harrington, noting her son was a little leery when strangers asked for money, if he thought they might use it for drugs. "But he'd take them to get a sandwich. He'd never let anyone go hungry."

Williams, she said, would have to make peace with his maker.

"It's a glorious day, because DeWayne will never see freedom again," she said.

Williams, however, seemed to be harboring other hopes.

"Ain't nothing I can do or say to brink him back to life," he said when offered the opportunity to address the court. "So I guess we'll just come back on appeal and do all this again."

Before handing down the sentence, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Williams, however, seemed to be harboring other hopes.

"Ain't nothing I can do or say to brink him back to life," he said when offered the opportunity to address the court. "So I guess we'll just come back on appeal and do all this again."

Before handing down the sentence, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren, who presided over the three-day trial in April, said a successful appeal wasn't likely.

The judge had dark words for Williams.

"This young man is marked by a total disregard for the life of others," he said.

Calling Williams' behavior "evil," Warren said the sort of disregard illustrated in this case is rapidly contributing to the demise of society as a whole. Williams, he concluded, is now left with "dishonor, death and prison."

But Defense attorney Charles D. Toby maintained his earlier position, saying Williams never meant to shoot Bailo.

The defendant's family, Toby said, was shocked by the event they described as uncharacteristic of Williams' usual behavior.

Toby also said Williams was "born a crack baby" to a 14-year-old mother, and was a "product of his environment."

But Assistant Prosecutor Jason Pernick said citing Williams' background "as a means to justify or excuse his actions was demeaning" to the many who face similar challenges and work to become productive members of society.

"There is nothing in the defendant's upbringing that can in any way justify or excuse what he did," Pernick said.

Bailo's father, Ken Bailo, shared similar sentiments, and read part of a story, published in the Detroit News, about a young woman who rose above similar circumstances to carve out a productive, healthy life.

Although he'd spent the morning pounding out an angry statement he intended to read, Ken Bailo changed his mind once he got inside the courtroom.

"I thought I could be really cold and steely," he said. "I couldn't; it dehumanizes me to go down to that level."

It was an emotional day.

"I'm deeply hurt, he said. "I'll never get over it."

A jury found William guilty last month of first-degree felony murder, armed robbery and two counts of felony firearms charges. He faces a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole.

Lake Orion Review Editor
print
Print
email
Email Link
share
Share
The Oxford Leader
SPI Subscriptions
Site Search