A man accused of fatally stabbing a 19-year-old man during a dispute outside a Temecula Walmart must stand trial for second-degree murder and other charges, a judge ruled Friday.
James Beckham Fortney, 41, was arrested in November after allegedly killing Kevin James Rodriguez in the parking lot of the store at 32225 Temecula Parkway.
Following a preliminary hearing at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon found there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial for murder, as well as voluntary manslaughter and making criminal threats.
Gallon scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for Aug. 3. Fortney is free on $250,000 bail.
Fortney and Rodriguez crossed paths about 12:15 p.m. on Nov. 30, according to sheriff’s officials. The men were in their respective vehicles when Fortney nearly ran into the victim’s car during what witnesses described as an act of road rage, possibly triggered by heavy traffic.
Fortney allegedly jumped out of his vehicle more than once to engage Rodriguez, who was with his girlfriend, heading to his parents’ house for a family celebration, according to published reports.
Investigators said Rodriguez finally pulled into the Walmart parking lot in response to Fortney’s alleged aggressive behavior.
Fortney allegedly pulled a knife as the two men argued, stabbing the victim once in the chest, at which point he collapsed unconscious, according to investigators.
Fortney was immediately remorseful and even tried to assist with reviving Rodriguez, witnesses stated.
Rodriguez was taken to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where he died a short time later.
Fortney was interviewed by detectives for hours before ultimately being arrested and booked into jail.
Fortney posted bail the following day and was released.
If convicted, Fortney could face 15 years to life in state prison.
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