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Judge declares mistrial in attempted homicide trial in Fayette

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Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A mistrial was declared in a Fayette County man's attempted homicide trial when jurors could not reach a verdict.

The jury deliberated for three and a half hours before advising Judge John F. Wagner Jr. they were hopelessly deadlocked in Timothy Eugene Rockwell's case. Rockwell, 47, of Markleysburg, is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and aggravated assault by vehicle.

Assistant District Attorney Doug Sepic said the case, in which Rockwell is accused of using his pickup truck to ram a motorcycle driven by his stepson and nephew, Alan J. Rockwell Jr., will be retried.

Timothy Rockwell became Alan Rockwell's stepfather when he married Alan Rockwell's mother, Kathleen Rockwell, according to trial testimony.

Sepic said Timothy Rockwell rammed the motorcycle because he was angry that Alan Rockwell received only probation for assaulting Timothy Rockwell with a pool cue. Alan Rockwell testified he assaulted Timothy Rockwell because Timothy Rockwell was having an affair with his then-wife, Tina Rockwell.

“This was the opportunity for the defendant to get this retaliation,” Sepic said during the trial. “This is when opportunity did knock.”

Timothy Rockwell on Tuesday testified he took photos of his stepson's motorcycle at his estranged wife's residence in Bitner because he knew Alan Rockwell did not have a driver's license. He wanted to use the pictures to try to have Alan Rockwell's probation revoked, he testified.

After he took the photos, he traveled to Route 51, where he pulled off to use a cell phone, Timothy Rockwell testified. He said he was still talking on the phone when he re-entered the road and failed to see the motorcycle as he moved from the right lane into the left lane of travel.

“If I would have seen there was somebody in that lane, I would never have went over there,” Timothy Rockwell testified.

Timothy Rockwell testified he “jammed on the brakes” when the motorcycle hit the bed of his truck.

The motorcycle then hit a guide rail, he testified, before traveling back onto the road and striking his truck near the driver's door.

He did not realize the rider was his stepson, Timothy Rockwell testified, until he moved his truck to a parking lot and ran back to the bike. He testified he called 911 and his stepson's mother and then waited for help to arrive.

Timothy Rockwell testified he did not immediately acknowledge to police that he knew Alan Rockwell because he “was totally in shock.”

Cpl. John Weaver, a state police collision reconstruction specialist, disputed Timothy Rockwell's account of the incident.

“By the time (Alan Rockwell) hits the guardrail and bounces back, that truck is stopped some number of feet behind him,” Weaver testified, noting that the motorcycle was traveling faster than the truck as it passed it. “When he comes back right, there's not going to be anything there for him to hit.”

In addition, Weaver testified that if the motorcycle had hit the guide rail, Alan Rockwell's injuries would have been more severe and he would not have survived the crash.

Alan Rockwell testified he sustained two broken legs and was unable to walk for six months.

Timothy Rockwell's attorney, Jeremy Davis of Uniontown, argued the collision was an accident.

“This was a completely random accident that happened to involve people who knew each other,” Davis said. “It can happen, and that's what happened in this case.”

Pending retrial, Timothy Rockwell is free on $50,000 unsecured bond.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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