South Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Fleeing Charge
MIDDLEBOURNE – A South Carolina man, who led police on a chase from Sistersville to Paden City, pleaded guilty recently in Tyler County Circuit Court.
Joseph W. Rodgers, 38, of Graniteville, S.C., accepted a plea agreement on Aug. 17 on charges of fleeing in a vehicle with reckless disregard and destruction of property.
According to court documents, Rodgers stole a 2013 Ford Explorer owned by Curtis and Tracy Heintzman and led multiple law enforcement agencies on a high speed pursuit Jan. 18 that ended in Paden City. Sgt. Alex Northcraft, Sistersville police, sustained a minor gunshot wound to his leg when the chase ended. While taking the Rodgers into custody, Northcraft’s firearm reportedly discharged.
According to court documents, Patrolman Mason Rine was investigating a report about Heintzman’s vehicle that was allegedly stolen from the Par Mar parking lot. Northcraft responded to the scene and, while reviewing the security video, the Ford Explorer drove past Rine, who tried to initiate a traffic stop.
Rodgers allegedly attempted to ram Rine’s police cruiser, court documents said.
Haught said police and the Tyler County Sheriff’s deputies pursued the vehicle as it allegedly sped through the city’s back streets.
Law enforcement officers followed the vehicle as it traveled at a high speed north on W.Va. 2 toward Paden City, Haught said.
Police pursued the vehicle until the chase ended on the south end of Paden City.
Police said there was a minor collision with a SPD cruiser, but no injuries. Rodgers allegedly struggled with officers, police said. During the struggle, Northcraft was attempting to reholster his sidearm and it discharged into his upper leg, police said.
According to court documents, the incident caused more than $2,500 in damage to Heintzman’s vehicle, estimated to be worth nearly $22,000.
Rodgers was initially charged with grand larceny, fleeing in a vehicle with reckless indifference, attempted malicious assault with indifference, destruction of property and reckless driving.
As part of the plea agreement, the grand larceny, attempted malicious assault and reckless driving charges were dismissed.
Though Rodgers has yet to be sentenced, the plea agreement calls for a sentence of not less than one year nor more than five years of prison time on the fleeing with reckless indifference charge; not less than two years nor more than 10 years for the destruction of property charge. The sentences are to be served consecutively, however, prison time for the destruction of property charge is suspended pending Rodgers’ release for time served for the fleeing charge. Upon Rodgers’ release, he will be on probation for 36 months and be made to pays and restitution.
“I’m happy that he decided to take responsibility,” Tyler County Prosecutor D. Luke Furbee said. “He’s been ordered to make full restitution to owner of the vehicle and to the City of Sistersville.”