Man Who Rammed Tour Bus May Challenge Plea Deal

FACES DECADES IN PRISON IF FOUND GUILTY AT TRIAL

justice court
(Photo by Tim Evanson/Creative Commons)

A man who told police he used LSD before driving his car into the side of an excursion bus on State Route 90 in 2017 wasn’t sentenced to prison this week as expected because he wants time to consider backing out of the plea deal he signed last fall.

Roderick Eugene Stevens pleaded guilty in November to three felonies related to his actions in October 2017 when he hit the Getaway Tours of Arizona bus as it passed through Huachuca City. The terms of the written plea agreement stipulated Stevens must serve two years in a state prison followed by five years of probation.

Stevens, 26, was set to be sentenced Jan. 27 but Judge Timothy Dickerson agreed to delay sentencing after Stevens suggested he may want to withdraw from the plea deal. One provision of the agreement was that 28 of the 31 counts in the grand jury indictment would be permanently dismissed.

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The plea deal also requires Stevens to pay more than $6,000 in restitution to tour operator Larry Morgan, who was out of business for several months while his bus was repaired.

Arizona court rules require Stevens to show a “manifest injustice” will occur if he is not allowed to withdraw from the plea agreement. After the hearing, Deputy County Attorney Jason Lindstrom indicated he may not oppose Stevens’ effort to void the agreement.

Instead, Lindstrom would ask Dickerson to set the matter for trial at which Stevens faces decades in prison if convicted of all 29 felonies and 2 misdemeanors charged in the indictment. Dickerson ordered the parties back to court March 2, and in the meantime Stevens remains out of custody.

Court records show no one on Morgan’s bus was seriously injured during the 2017 collision with Steven’s Subaru Legacy, but several of the 12 passengers suffered soreness and bruising. Stevens fled the late-night accident on foot but returned soon after. He remained hospitalized for several days “for treatment,” according to public records.

The Huachuca City Police Department referred its investigation to the Cochise County Attorney’s Office in November 2017. The case wasn’t presented to the grand jury until October 2018 after Morgan expressed concern with the lack of action.

It’s unclear why it took so long for criminal charges to be filed, but once the indictment was issued the case was further delayed for several months while Stevens’ mental competency was assessed.

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