Valley News -

By Jeff Pack
Writer 

James Fortney convicted of second degree murder in stabbing death of Kevin Rodriguez

Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 19, Fortney faces 16 years and 8 months to life in prison

 

Last updated 10/19/2018 at 4:07am

Riverside County Sheriff's Department

James Beckham Fortney, 41, was convicted of second-degree murder, making criminal threats and a sentence-enhancing weapon charge for the 2017 slaying of Kevin James Rodriguez in the Walmart parking lot at 32225 Temecula Parkway last November.

A jury returned a guilty conviction Monday, Oct. 15 in the trial of a Temecula resident accused of fatally stabbing a 19-year-old man during a dispute in a store parking lot stemming from road rage.

James Beckham Fortney, 41, was convicted of second-degree murder, making criminal threats and a sentence-enhancing weapon charge for the 2017 slaying of Kevin James Rodriguez in the Walmart parking lot at 32225 Temecula Parkway last November.

According to Riverside County District Attorney's Office Public Information Officer John Hall, Fortney's bail was revoked and he was taken into custody following the verdict.

Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 19 at Southwest Justice Center and Fortney faces a maximum sentence of 16 years and 8 months to life in prison, according to Hall.

Deputy District Attorney Dan DeLimon alleged in pre-trial documents that Fortney and the victim crossed paths for the first and last time on the afternoon of Nov. 29, 2017.

According to DeLimon, Rodriguez and his girlfriend, identified in court documents only as "J.C.,'' were heading to the Walmart with her sister when they first encountered Fortney and his wife in a black Land Rover on Temecula Parkway and witnessed him screaming at an elderly driver.

When Rodriguez and J.C. entered the Walmart parking lot, they encountered Fortney at an intersection and J.C. rolled her car slowly in front of Fortney's car as he was starting his turn. In retaliation, the prosecutor said, Fortney then tailgated the woman in an act of intimidation. After parking, Rodriguez was upset by the behavior and told J.C. and her sister, also in the car, that he wanted a word with Fortney before going into the store.

Though Fortney's wife headed into the Walmart, he stayed in front of the store with a small bulldog on a leash, watching his Land Rover intently. When he saw Rodriguez walking toward the car, Fortney raced to the car holding his camera phone in front of him to record the ensuing encounter while screaming at Rodriguez, according to court papers.

When J.C. tried to pull out of her parking stall and pick up Rodriguez in an attempt to escape, Fortney allegedly blocked her path. Then as Rodriguez tried to walk around Fortney, he grabbed the victim by the throat and nearly lifted him off of the ground. Rodriguez then threw a punch which landed and caused Fortney to let him go. At that point, prosecutors said, Fortney drew a knife and thrust it at Rodriguez striking him in the heart.

The wound killed Rodriguez in five minutes.

Fortney was arrested on the scene by deputies without a struggle.

City News Service contributed this report.

 

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