Markleysburg family's feud comes up in trial
Attorneys in Fayette County have asked jurors to decide whether bad blood between family members drove a man to run his stepson's motorcycle off a highway or if the incident was merely an accident.
Jurors on Monday heard the first day of testimony in the attempted homicide trial of Timothy Eugene Rockwell, 47, of Markleysburg. State police contend that on April 3, 2012, Rockwell used his pickup truck to ram a motorcycle being ridden by his stepson and nephew, Alan J. Rockwell Jr., as the two traveled on Route 51 in North Union.
Alan Rockwell, 38, of Union-town testified that as a result of the crash, both legs were broken and he could not walk for six months.
Assistant District Attorney Doug Sepic told jurors the case is about “revenge, retaliation and retribution” stemming from the men's “complicated” family history.
Timothy Rockwell is Alan Rockwell's uncle, Sepic said. Timothy Rockwell later became Alan Rockwell's stepfather when Alan Rockwell's mother, Kathleen Rockwell, married Timothy Rockwell, according to Sepic.
When Timothy Rockwell later had an affair with Alan Rockwell's wife, Alan Rockwell confronted his stepfather with a pool cue and was charged with simple assault and harassment, Sepic said. Timothy Rockwell, according to Sepic, was unhappy when Alan Rockwell received a sentence of house arrest and probation.
Court records indicate that the sentence was imposed less than a month before the collision.
Timothy Rockwell's attorney, Jeremy Davis of Uniontown, said the collision was an accident.
“He did not attempt to intentionally kill Alan Rockwell,” Davis said. “Accidents happen. This was a motor vehicle accident.”
Kathleen Rockwell testified that she and Alan Rockwell were at her home in Bitner on April 3, 2012, when Timothy Rockwell stopped his truck in an alley to talk to her about repairs he was making to a rental property the two jointly owned. The two men did not confront one another at that time, she said.
Timothy Rockwell left first, Kathleen Rockwell testified. Her son waited at least 10 minutes before he left on his motorcycle.
Alan Rockwell testified that as he entered Route 51 from Bitner Road, he saw Timothy Rockwell's truck parked perpendicular to the highway. The truck pulled out in front of him, Alan Rockwell said, and he sped up and began to pass the truck.
As he passed the truck, Alan Rockwell testified, he saw its left front tire cross into his lane. The truck's mirror hit his right arm and shoulder. While he tried to maintain control of the motorcycle, Alan Rockwell said, he was hit a second time.
“I don't know if that's the impact that knocked me out,” Alan Rockwell testified, describing how he awoke and found paramedics tending to his legs. “Next thing I remember is being loaded into the helicopter and waking up in Ruby Memorial Hospital.”
Kathleen Rockwell testified that Timothy Rockwell called her immediately after the collision.
“Very cold, he said, ‘Your son's laying up here on 51,' ” Kathleen Rockwell testified, near tears. “And then when I got up there, he didn't even help me.”
Cpl. John Weaver, a state police collision reconstruction specialist, testified that two points of contact on the truck, along with other factors, indicate the collision was not an accident.
“There's nothing about this collision that's consistent with a sideswipe crash, with an accident,” Weaver testified. “There are elements of this collision that are consistent with deliberate intent.”
Testimony will resume on Tuesday before President Judge John F. Wagner Jr.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.