NY Chiefs' Conviction Stays

ROCHESTER -- The State Appellate Court rejected the appeal of former Lairdsville Assistant Fire Chief Alan Baird III, and a Monday court date has been scheduled for his return to jail on his criminally negligent homicide conviction.

Baird was convicted in May 2002 for his role in the September 2001 death of fire trainee Bradley Golden. Golden, 19, was killed while posing as a victim in a "live-burn" training exercise. Two other people were injured during the exercise, which Baird supervised.

The former chief was sentenced to serve 75 days on his conviction, but was acquitted on two other counts, second-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault.

Baird's and his attorney, Robert P. Moran Jr., attempted to have the conviction overturned, claiming errors were made during the trial, hurting Baird's chances for acquittal.

Those claims were rejected by the Appellate Division of the state's Fourth Judicial Department on Wednesday, and Baird's conviction was upheld.

On Monday at 2 p.m., Baird must appear before Dwyer during a hearing that will likely send him back to prison to serve the rest of his sentence.

Attempts to obtain comment from Baird were not successful Wednesday.

Moran, the embattled attorney who worked on the case while fighting off his own legal problems, expressed disappointment with the decision, and said his client will likely serve his sentence without any further court challenges.

"He's just ready to get it over with," said Moran from his home Wednesday afternoon. "We are both very disappointed."

The case, one which led to a new state law, began on Sept. 25, 2001, at a Westmoreland barn.

A sofa inside the barn was set on fire as part of the fire training exercise in which Golden served as a victim.

The blaze went out of control, however, and Golden was killed. Two other men, Lairdville firefighters Benjamin Morris and Adam Croman were injured.

Despite Baird's eventual conviction on criminally negligent homicide, he was out on bail pending the outcome of his conviction.

During that period, local legislators and Oneida County District Attorney Michael Arcuri worked on a bill that would ban "live-burn" fire training exercises in the state.

That effort came to fruition in July 2003, when Gov. George Pataki signed the bill, which became known as "Bradley's Law."

A month later, Baird's appeal was stalled by an unforeseen incident -- the arrest of his lawyer.

Moran has been in and out of prison since Aug. 16 in connection with his suspected role in a local methamphetamine ring.

Moran was in prison for Baird's original appeal hearing, which was scheduled in October.

The case was finally heard in Rochester last month, and Baird was able to argue his client's case against Assistant District Attorney Carl Boykin.

Moran attempted to argue that Baird was negatively impacted by four separate errors or decisions, including one that denied a firefighter -- who claims he was injured in a similar exercise -- from testifying on Baird's behalf.

Moran said his legal problems didn't impact his work on Baird's case, since his brief was completed and submitted to the court before his arrest.

Arcuri also said Moran's problems didn't impact the case.

Wednesday's decision came as a surprise to Moran, who expressed confidence in his client's chances last month.

"This case has consumed me the last couple of years," Moran said. "We thought we had a shot."

The decision wasn't very shocking to Arcuri, who was pleased with the outcome.

"A lot of effort was put into this case," Arcuri said. "We felt the evidence was overwhelming."

Two other convictions -- both homicides -- were also upheld by the appellate court.

Members of Golden's family could not be reached Wednesday.

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