A Fayette County jury rendered a split verdict on Friday, finding a Markleysburg man guilty of reckless endangerment for using his truck to run a relative’s motorcycle off the road, but acquitted him of the more serious aggravated assault-related charges.
Timothy Rockwell, 46, was charged with running his nephew, who is also his stepson, off the road, causing Alan James Rockwell Jr., 37, of Uniontown to crash his motorcycle on April 3, 2012.
An attempted homicide charge was dismissed part of the way through the two-day trial, after Timothy Rockwell’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Charity Grimm-Krupa, successfully argued to President Judge John F. Wagner Jr. that the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to prove Timothy Rockwell had to specific intent to kill Alan Rockwell Jr.
The jury deliberated for over two hours before rendering a verdict.
This is the second time the case has come before a jury. In October, a judge declared a mistrial in the case because jurors could not reach a verdict.
Police accused Timothy Rockwell, who was driving a Ford Ranger, of intentionally side-swiping Alan Rockwell Jr.’s motorcycle, causing him to crash and break both femurs.
The men have two familial relationships because Kathleen Rockwell was married to Alan Rockwell Sr. many years ago, and they bore Alan Rockwell Jr. The couple divorced, and Kathleen Rockwell married her ex-husband’s brother, Timothy Rockwell, the defendant.
They were married for 22 years, according to prior testimony, but separated in April 2010 because, Kathleen Rockwell testified, Timothy Rockwell was having an affair with Alan Rockwell Jr.’s wife.
Assistant District Attorney Douglas S. Sepic said Alan Rockwell Jr. confronted Timothy Rockwell about the affair — with a pool cue — and later pleaded guilty to simple assault and harassment. Alan Rockwell Jr. received a sentence of six to 23 months on intermediate punishment, with the first six months on electronic monitoring, and Sepic told jurors that sentence upset Timothy Rockwell.
Timothy Rockwell was in Bitner and saw Alan Rockwell Jr.’s motorcycle, and decided to take pictures to turn in to police, Timothy Rockwell testified. Alan Rockwell Jr. had a suspended license.
He left Bitner, heading toward Uniontown, and received a call on his cellphone shortly before turning onto Route 51, Timothy Rockwell testified. He pulled off on the side of Route 51 to check who called, he told jurors, and pulled back onto the highway slowly while returning the call.
According to the defendant, he neither saw nor heard Alan Rockwell Jr.’s motorcycle approaching. Timothy Rockwell testified the motorcycle made contact with the rear of the truck, veered to the left, hit a guide rail, and when it bounced back into the road, it struck the truck a second time.
State police Corporal John Weaver, who testified an expert witness in collision reconstruction, said the crash could not have happened that way.
Weaver told the jury that a motorcyclists who run into guide rails are typically killed or dismembered. He also testified that, based on the speeds the two men were reportedly traveling, and his observations at the scene of the crash, he concluded that Alan Rockwell Jr. could not have made impact with the back of the truck first and then with the sideview mirror the second time.
“For that (conclusion) to be correct, all the data you put in would have to be correct, right?” Grimm-Krupa asked Weaver. “Your end result is only as accurate as the data you put in?”
“Absolutely,” Weaver replied.
Grimm-Krupa argued that the rates of speed the victim and defendant provided to police were best guesses, and could be inaccurate.
Timothy Rockwell’s sentencing is scheduled for May 28 at 11 a.m. Upon Grimm-Krupa’s request, Timothy Rockwell’s bond was continued and he remains free pending sentencing.