Jury says Brown County deputy not liable in high-speed crash death


Brown County jury ruled in favor of the Brown County Sheriff's Department and a deputy in a lawsuit filed by the family of a woman killed in a high-speed chase.

The suit was filed by the family of Brianna Baker who died in the Jan. 22, 2012 crash in Beardstown. She was a passenger in truck driven by Jacob Hendricks.The chase began with reports of a dark colored Chevy pickup going through yards and vandalizing private and public property in Versailles.

Deputy John Zimmerman and the department were both named as defendants in the suit.

Baker's family alleged that Zimmerman and the Sheriff's Department were reckless during the chase. Zimmerman, driver Hendricks and former Brown County Sheriff Jerry Kempf and others testified at the three-day trial presided over by Judge Alesia McMillen.

The jury deliberated for 30 minutes before returning its verdict.

Investigators said Hendricks sped away from authorities and drove through four counties. At times he reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, investigators said. The chase went through Brown, Pike and Morgan counties before Hendricks crashed his pickup into a utility pole.

Baker was a student at the University of Missouri.

Passenger Brooke Vonholt, 18, was also hospitalized in the crash.

Hendricks is currently serving a five-year state prison sentence after pleading guilty to numerous criminal and traffic violations in Brown and Cass counties.