A Temecula, California man who stabbed a 19-year-old man to death in a Walmart parking lot following an apparent road rage incident last year was convicted Monday of second-degree murder.
After two days of deliberations, a jury found James Beckham Fortney, 41, guilty of killing Kevin James Rodriguez, the Press-Enterprise in Riverside California reports. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 19 and could face up to life in prison.
Fortney started a fight with the victim in the parking lot of a Walmart in Temecula, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s office.
“Fortney grabbed the much smaller Rodriguez by the throat and the victim tried to defend himself,” prosecutor Daniel DeLimon wrote in the press release. “The two men briefly separated a few feet from each other but Fortney then pulled out a 6-inch folding knife. Without warning, Fortney lunged at the victim, stabbing him in the chest.”
DeLimon explained that after Rodriguez was stabbed, his girlfriend Jensen Carleton, 18, ran towards Fortney, who responded by threatening her with the statement, “You’re next.”
As witnesses called 911 and tried to help the dying Rodriguez, Fortney had other plans.
“Using his cell phone, Fortney recorded the victim as he was dying,” DeLimon wrote. He added that he did later join in the life-saving efforts.
The violence began while Rodriguez and Carleton were driving to the store to buy supplies for a birthday party for Rodrguez’s dad when they stopped to wait for a woman using a crosswalk, according to the Press-Enterprise. When they did so, Fortney nearly rear-ended the car's couple, Rodriguez's dad later told the publication. Then, Fortney honked at that pedestrian and the couple. At some point after both parties parked, Rodriguez and Fortney had their deadly encounter.
Rodriguez was a rising social media star whose Instagram featured him cliff jumping and flipping high in the air.
[Photo: Riverside County Sheriff’s Department]
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