Sgt. Michael Todd May
Photo credit: Monongalia County Sheriff's Department
WAYNESBURG, Pa. -- A West Virginia man convicted in December of third-degree murder in the death of an officer killed during a vehicle pursuit in Greene County last February was sentenced Tuesday to serve 25 to 50 years in prison.
Jerod Green, 36, of Morgantown was sentenced by Greene County Judge William Nalitz to serve 18 to 36 years for third-degree murder, five to 10 years for homicide by vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and two to four years for fleeing or attempting to elude police and drunken driving. All of those sentences will run consecutively.
Nalitz also sentenced Green to five to 10 years in prison for homicide by vehicle, but that sentence will run concurrently, or at the same time, as the others.
The sentencing was handed down several months after a Greene County jury found Green guilty of the charges in connection with the Feb. 18, 2012, death of Monongalia County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Michael Todd May, whose police cruiser was struck by Green's vehicle during the pursuit.
Green had also been charged with murder of a law enforcement officer in the first degree, but the jury acquitted him of the first-degree murder charge.
During the sentencing, the courtroom was packed with May's family members and friends and numerous Pennsylvania and West Virginia state troopers, officers from the Greene and Monongalia County sheriff's departments and Waynesburg Police Department.
Before the sentence was handed down, May's brother, Frank May, fought back tears as he asked Nalitz to impose the maximum sentence.
"Jerod Green murdered a police officer," he said. "A just life was lost, but a selfish life was spared. He had five previous DUIs and had many chances to turn his life around. Instead, he crashed his vehicle into my brother like a missile. I think he has been granted enough chances.
"The impact of my brother's death to my family is immeasurable," he added. "We ask the court to impose the maximum sentence on all counts."
District Attorney Marjorie Fox also added that the court pursued the maximum sentence against Green because he is considered to be "dangerous."
"Mr. Green has had many opportunities to change his behavior and turn his life around," Fox said. "However, he chose to stay on a dangerous path."
When asked by Nalitz if he had any comment before he imposed the sentence, Green quietly apologized to May's family and said he was sorry for their loss.
Nalitz told Green that, "By continuing on your path, you destroyed one family. So I want to make sure that you don't have a chance to do something like this again for a long time."
The incident with Green began with a hit-and-run accident in Morgantown involving Green's 2009 Chevrolet Silverado. Green was stopped by police, and said he initially ran because of four prior DUI charges. He then fled, briefly dragging an officer who had asked him to take a field sobriety test.
Several police departments joined in the pursuit as Green drove into Pennsylvania, where he traveled onto the southbound ramp of Interstate 79 in Mt. Morris.
May had been heading north and crossed the median to join the pursuit. Another officer said he saw May's patrol vehicle appear to be waiting along the berm for Green, when Green's vehicle moved directly across the interstate toward May's police car. The officer said May appeared to try to avoid a head-on collision by entering the highway, but at the last moment, Green turned right and struck the patrol vehicle.
May, a 10-year veteran of the Monongalia County, W.Va., sheriff's department, died a short while after the crash at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.
According to Fox, Green was traveling at 98 mph immediately prior to the crash and did not apply his brakes. Police also previously said that Green's blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was .189, more than twice the legal limit.
Following the hearing, Green was escorted from the courtroom. While waiting for the elevator, he declined comment about the sentence, and did not offer any additional comment to Michael May's family.
Fox said she was satisfied with the sentence.
"It fell under the proper guidelines," she said. "I hope that people will recognize the sacrifices police officers make every day. Mr. Green made his choices that day, but unfortunately Sgt. May had no choice."
Fox also added that Green will be given credit for the time he's already served in the case. He had been incarcerated since his arrest last February.
Frank May said he was happy with the sentence.
"Nothing will bring my brother back, but we know he will live on, in spirit and through organ donorship," he said.
Sheriff Al Kisner of the Monongalia County Sheriff's Department said after the sentencing that Green is also facing felony charges in West Virginia as a result of the incident.
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