GEARY COUNTY, Kan. (WIBW) -- In a bizarre twist, a witness for the prosecution in a fatal hit-and-run case in Geary County changed his story on the stand Tuesday and says he does not remember contacting authorities and identifying his cousin as the suspect who struck and killed a motorcyclist on Interstate 70.
Rodney Leroy Stockstill Sr., 51, of St. Joseph Missouri, is accused of hitting a motorcyclist on I-70 and fleeing the scene, leaving the victim with fatal injuries. His preliminary hearing was held Tuesday at the Geary County courthouse.
Stockstill is a truck driver who works for a company out of Doniphan County, Kansas and was traveling through Geary County on a route he took several times a week, officials said.
On August 24, 2012 at 3 AM, Geary County deputies responded to I-70 mile post 310 west bound off-ramp to the rest area approximately 13 miles east of Junction City for a possible injury accident.
Dispatch stated that there was a man lying on the ground next to a motorcycle who was not moving. Passersby had found the victim and called 911.
Officers arrived and found Bradey Weaver, 28, of Toledo, Ohio, suffering from serious head injuries. Weaver was on a road trip to Las Vegas at the time of the deadly accident.
He was rushed to the emergency room at Geary Community Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Officials later revealed that Weaver was killed in a hit-and-run when his 2006 Harley Davidson motorcycle was struck from behind. The Geary County Sheriff’s Office asked for the public's assistance gathering information on the case and it remained under investigation for several months. In early November, Stockstill was named as the suspect.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the state revealed that the Geary County Sheriff’s Office was tipped off to Stockstill’s possible involvement in the fatal crash by one of his family members but in court, the relative told a different story.
Skylar Lutz, a former investigator with the Geary County Sheriff’s Office who worked on the hit-and run case, said she was contacted in early October 2012 by Stockstill’s cousin, Michael Douglas Fones, who said Stockstill confided in him after the accident and confessed.
Lutz said Fones told her over the phone that Stockstill told him that he was Westbound on I-70 around 2:30 AM on August 24, 2012 and it was pouring rain and he was in the “slow lane” in his freight liner when suddenly, he saw taillights in front of him and hit a motorcycle “very hard” before he had time to react. During her testimony, Lutz said Fones told her that Stockstill said he saw the motorcycle veer off onto the side of the road but he didn’t stop because he didn’t want to get in trouble.
Geary County investigators later met with Fones in person and Lutz said they went over Stockstill’s alleged confession and had Fones make a written statement about what his cousin told him about the crash. The written statement was presented as evidence. Lutz’s former supervisor, Sgt. Anthony Ricks corroborated her testimony when he took the stand.
But when Fones got on the witness stand, he denied ever having a conversation with his cousin about an accident and was adamant that he did not remember anything he told Geary County investigators over the phone or in person, saying he has a “bad memory.” It was a tense exchange as Deputy Geary County Attorney John Taylor tried to unsuccessfully jog Fones’ recollection of his own actions. Fones said he did not remember making a written statement when he met with investigators but recognized his handwriting on the document when it was handed to him in the courtroom.
Fones admitted that he's been dealing with some mental health issues when asked about it by the defense.
Stockstill’s boss, Bill Rush, testified that around the time of the accident, Stockstill told him that he struck several deer outside of Hoisington, Kansas, explaining damage to the front of his truck on the passenger side bumper and grill. Even though there was no fur or blood on the truck, Rush said he did not question the damage because Stockstill said it was raining heavily when he hit the deer, which would have washed everything away. He said the insurance company did not find anything suspicious when they evaluated the damage from the reported deer collision and paid for the repairs to Stockstill’s truck.
The preliminary hearing will continue March 21 with testimony from a Geary County Sheriff’s Deputy who could not make Tuesday’s hearing due to surgery.
Stockstill is out of jail on bond.