Family of Granite City motorcyclist who was shot recalls him as proud worker

The Caleb Bailey murder trial continued Wednesday in Madison County with more state witnesses testifying to the long-running feud between Bailey and Travis Mayes.

Mayes was found dead in a Granite City parking lot on May 18, 2014, lying astride his tipped-over motorcycle. It was determined that Mayes died not of a crash as initially suspected, but a single gunshot to the head.

Bailey was living with Brittney Bess, with whom he had a child. Several of his friends have now testified that Bess and Mayes had a prior relationship and that Bailey was jealous, fearing he was losing Bess to Mayes.

James Peterson, a former state police special agent, testified about texts he recovered from Bailey’s cellphone beginning in March, two months before Mayes’ death.

Early texts indicated that Bailey and Mayes may have been friends, but their friendship soured over their mutual affection for Bess.

Mayes had texted Bailey that he loved Bess just as Bailey did, and would not let harm come to her. Bailey said he didn’t believe that Mayes loved her, and no longer wanted to speak to him. He felt betrayed by Mayes’ affection for Bess, accusing him of tearing apart his family. “Every part of my life that’s been good has been with her,” he texted.

Bailey also sent harsher accusations to Bess, calling her names and making crude speculations about her relations with Mayes. On Mayes’ birthday, Bailey texted pictures of himself and Bess having sex to Mayes. But he also exhorted her to return to him and reconcile. The texts follow their separation and eventual attempts to reconcile.

Michael Heath, a friend of Bailey’s testified that he saw Bess and Mayes talking at Nick’s Bar the night of Mayes’ death. Afterward, he said, Mayes left alone. They gave Bess a ride home themselves, he said.

In a videotaped police interrogation, Bailey said he had followed Bess to the bar and saw Mayes’ bike outside. Later he met up with Mayes in a parking lot, and they had words about Mayes possibly resuming his relationship with Bess.

Bailey said he thought Mayes was about to attack him, and shot him out of fear for his life. However, in the same interrogation he said he was sitting inside his truck, which was running the entire time, and Mayes never got off his motorcycle.

Also testifying was Amberley Duke, Mayes’ niece. Since she was only six years younger than her uncle; they were raised more as siblings, she said. She said Mayes was a union construction worker who helped build the Interstate 270 bridge, which her kids now call “The Travis Bridge.”

Mayes had two older children, Duke said, and his 26-year-old daughter is now expecting his first grandchild. She showed pictures of Mayes working on one of the many road construction jobs he did. “He posted pictures of himself every day at work,” Duke said. “He was so proud of that job.”

Later, Dr. Raj Nanduri, retired forensic pathologist, testified via videotaped deposition that the bullet entered Mayes’ head above the right ear and lodged in his upper jaw. She said the trajectory indicated he was shot from the side. Defense attorney David Fahrenkamp said that might indicate he was facing his attacker and turned his head.

Bailey’s father, Willie Bailey, had filed a request for medical exemption from testifying, which was overruled. He was present when Caleb Bailey came home, and was watching Bailey and Bess’ daughter, Avery.

He said he was present when Caleb Bailey told Bess he had shot Mayes, declining to use the curse words. Caleb told him that Mayes said, “Your kid will start calling me daddy,” and that was why he shot him. “He said he blew his brains out,” Willie Bailey said.

On cross-examination, Willie Bailey said his son was trying to get custody of Avery, believing that Bess was not fit to care for her. “He’s an awesome father,” he said.

He brought his son out when the police came, Willie said, and Caleb surrendered peacefully. As Willie described his son’s surrender, he wept on the stand.

Tuesday’s testimony included several witnesses at the bar that night, who testified that Bailey was outside while Bess and Mayes were inside. One friend testified that Bailey offered him $500 to beat up Mayes, which he declined.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald