Drug dealer wanted to steal man’s car. He is going to prison for killing him in park

Alan Baily on Wednesday was found guilty of killing Alexander “Alex” Cherp in 2017 as part of a plot to steal Cherp’s Mercedes-Benz, leaving him to die in Greenbrook Park in Lakewood Ranch.

After deliberating for just about 30 minutes, a jury of 12 found Baily guilty as charged of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery. He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 2.

Because Baily was 17 at the time he murdered Cherp, a life sentence is not automatic and he could be sentenced to as few as 40 years in prison.

His co-defendant, Jose Hernandez, in October pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and attempted armed robbery in exchange for a 43-year prison sentence. Hernandez did not testify against Baily.

For Michelle Cherp and her family, justice was finally served in the brutal death of her only child. Cherp stood and faced her son’s killer as he was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs. Baily never turned to face her.

“My son loved his car. It was his life,” Cherp said outside the courthouse after the verdict.. “He died not giving it up.”

Alexander “Alex” Cherp Michelle Cherp Provided photo

She was very grateful, she added, for the jurors, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detectives, the state attorney’s office and all the victim advocates assigned to assist her through the past two and a half years.

Not only did she have a strong bond with her only child, but her son was loved, she said pointing to the family and friends who supported her every step of the way.

“I loved my kid,” Cherp said with a beaming smile that quickly turned to tears. “Unfortunately, I am never going to have grandchildren. I’m never going to see him get married. That kid took away my life, as well as Alex’s.”

A security guard just before midnight on Feb. 4, 2017, found Cherp dying from two gunshot wounds to the head, the guard testified. The victim’s dying moans could be heard on a recording of the 911 call the guard made, and which was played in court Tuesday.

The victim may have survived one of those gunshots but not the other, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Wilson Broussard testified on Wednesday morning.

Alan Baily at his jury trial on Aug. 21, 2019. Giuseppe Sabella

The victim was meeting Baily because he wanted to smoke marijuana, but Baily had already discussed robbing Cherp because he had a lot of money and a really nice car, said a witness testifying about what she had heard. It was unclear at which point Hernandez was brought into the plan.

“Taking this car was Alan Baily’s plan,” Assistant State Attorney Suzanne O’Donnell said during closing arguments.

Hernandez fired the first shot, and then told Baily to “finish him off,” a nervous and upset Baily later told that same witness. Baily told her, ”We were just supposed to take the car.”

Video surveillance footage played for the jury showed when they met up with Cherp at a Wawa. Baily and Hernandez’s fingerprints were both found inside Cherp’s car. Cell phone records also showed there were conversations between Baily and Cherp leading up to his death. Cherp’s girlfriend testified that she was with the victim when he first texted Baily about getting marijuana.

Alexander “Alex” Cherp Michelle Cherp Provided photo

Michelle Cherp, other family and friends sat through the more than two days of testimony in the trial.

Not only did Baily and Hernandez never steal her son’s car, but he had forgotten his wallet at home, according to Michelle Cherp.

“He was just a good boy and you know what, no one should be killed because they wanted to go smoke some pot,” she said.

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