Letter: Charges against Allen based on false information
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
Letter to the editor:
You recently ran an article regarding Mr. Rocky Allen pleading to leaving the scene of an accident. However, the article indicated that he pled to a felony. He pled to misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident. The reason he was given time served is that the initial charges (which were based on false information) caused Mr. Allen to have a one-million-dollar bond. Mr. Allen could not make that one-million-dollar bond, so he sat in jail based on the false information.
I have attached a document entitled "factual basis" which served as some of the facts that were taken by the court at the time of the plea. Because this was a no contest plea the court inquires as to what the evidence would be if the case went to trial. The attached factual basis is what the defense read into the record that represents the evidence in this case if the case went to trial.
Thomas J. Bath Jr.
Bath & Edmonds, P.A., Attorneys at Law
On December 21, 2020, the State of Kansas charged James Rocky Allen with Murder in the 2nd Degree. The State alleged Mr. Allen intentionally struck a vehicle on December 15, 2020, multiple times. Mr. Allen’s mother, Charlotte Grimes, was the sole occupant of the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.
KBI Agent Robert Beabout set forth in the Probable Cause Affidavit that Mr. Allen “caused the death of Charlotte Grimes by striking her vehicle, with her in it, multiple times at high rates of speed.” Agent Beabout stated Mr. Allen’s truck was traveling at “highway speeds when it intentionally impacted the rear end of the Versa.” The Affidavit further stated Mr. Allen “drove his truck into the field and struck the Versa a second time on the passenger side.” These conclusions were based upon information provided by the KHP’s Critical Highway Accident Reconstruction Team (CHART) at that time.
The official “Accident Reconstruction Report” by the KHP was not provided to the KBI until March 29, 2021.
At the time of the accident, Ms. Grimes was driving her sister’s (Peggy Querry) black 2014 Nissan Versa. This is not a car she is known to drive. Mr. Allen is not familiar with the vehicle and had only seen the vehicle 2 to 3 times in the past year. Further, Mr. Allen did not know Ms. Querry drove her vehicle, instead of Ms. Grimes driving her vehicle, to Linn County to visit their mother, Willa Querry.
Willa Querry lives north of Mr. Allen’s residence on Keitel Road in rural Linn County, Kansas. During the visit with her mother, Ms. Grimes decided to go to Mr. Allen’s residence and requested to drive Ms. Querry’s vehicle. Mr. Allen was not aware of his mother’s plans to visit him at his residence. Ms. Grimes was wearing a hoody, which crime scene photos indicated Ms. Grimes was wearing the hoody with the hood pulled up.
The car accident occurred on a two-lane gravel road, north of Mr. Allen’s residence. In-car video from Trooper Raines patrol vehicle showed significant dust in the air from the gravel road caused by a vehicle he was following, north of the accident scene.
Investigators determined that Ms. Grimes pulled over and stopped her vehicle on Keitel Road. Her vehicle was parked partially in the gravel road in the southbound lane as there was no shoulder that would allow her to pull fully off the road. Investigators could not determine why Ms. Grimes stopped her vehicle on Keitel Road.
Mr. Allen was tending to a sick cow at the time of the accident. He would typically get medicine from a neighbor that lived north of Willa Querry’s residence. Mr. Allen would have driven north on Keitel Road to obtain the medicine. Because of the concussion, it is unknown if Mr. Allen passed his mother and then turned around to return to his house, but there is evidence to suggest he turned around. If Mr. Allen turned around on Keitel Road, it was because he forgot to bring a syringe with him to obtain medicine for the sick cow from the neighbor.
Two citizens drove by the accident scene and stopped to assist. Mr. Allen was not present at the time they arrived as he had returned to his residence on foot to retrieve a phone. Mr. Allen returned to the scene, without shoes, and exhibited signs of confusion. Mr. Allen told one of the citizens that he hit his head on the windshield. He also told the two men that he just received a new phone and didn’t know how it worked and asked for their help to call 911. One of the citizens told investigators that there was no indication in his opinion that Mr. Allen knew the woman in the car.
The Probable Cause Affidavit stated that Mr. Allen’s head struck the windshield of his black 1989 Chevrolet pickup truck. Mr. Allen was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident and exhibited signs of a concussion at the scene and was transported to Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Tests for the presence of alcohol, methamphetamine and cocaine were negative. Initial testing by the KBI indicated Mr. Allen had marijuana in his system. However, the KBI Laboratory was unable to confirm the positive result for marijuana upon further testing. There is no evidence to support that Mr. Allen was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident that caused him to be unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. Further, there was no evidence to indicate he was using a cellular phone at the time of the accident.
A bond hearing was held in front of Judge Johnson on November 12, 2021. The defense presented an expert in accident reconstruction (former KHP) who testified the KHP Accident Reconstruction Report was inaccurate and contained erroneous/false conclusions. As a result of the hearing, the KHP reviewed its Accident Reconstruction Report and in May of 2022 issued an amended report. In the amended report, Trooper Voigts stated his initial report “was completed based on incomplete information and rendered opinions that were ultimately inaccurate.”
He concluded that Mr. Allen was not traveling at “highway speeds” at the time of the first contact, rather between 40 to 55 mph and that at the time of the second impact Mr. Allen’s vehicle was traveling between 9 to 13 mph. Importantly, for the first time, Trooper Voigts acknowledged Mr. Allen’s front bumper “came into contact with the driver’s side wheel.” At the bond hearing, the defense expert testified this damage occurred after the first impact and prevented Mr. Allen from being able to steer the Chevrolet truck. Thus, the KHP initial conclusion that Mr. Allen intentionally struck his mother’s vehicle multiple times was inaccurate and false.