A California man was found guilty of murder after he stabbed a teen to death following a road rage confrontation in a store parking lot last year—and videotaped the victim dying, according to prosecutors.
A jury found 41-year-old James Beckham Fortney, of Temecula, guilty of “second-degree murder—with an enhancement of using a knife—and one count of making criminal threats,” according to a Riverside County District Attorney’s Office press release.
Police said Fortney initiated a fight outside of a Walmart, located on Temecula Parkway, with 19-year-old Kevin Rodriguez, who died after being stabbed in the chest by the convicted killer last November, KTLA reports.
Rodriguez’s family told the news station at the time that the victim, of Murrieta, was getting ready to celebrate his father’s birthday. They said the teen was on his way to Walmart, along with his girlfriend and her sister, for dinner supplies when he first encountered Fortney.
Court records obtained by Valley News said the incident began when the trio witnessed Fortney and his spouse “screaming at an elderly driver” on Temecula Parkway.
As Rodriguez’s unidentified girlfriend pulled into the Walmart parking lot, she reportedly “rolled her car slowly” ahead of Fortney’s vehicle, as the man was beginning to turn in his Land Rover, the documents state. The situation escalated, and Fortney apparently proceeded to tailgate the three in order to scare them.
After the girlfriend parked the car, Rodriguez said he wanted to confront Fortney about the situation before heading into Walmart, according to the newspaper.
While Fortney’s wife went into the store, he stayed behind with a dog in tow as he kept an eye on his Land Rover. When he witnessed Rodriguez approaching the vehicle, he rushed to the scene “screaming” while recording the confrontation via his cell phone’s camera, court documents indicate.
At one point Fortney, who police said was much larger than Rodriguez, grabbed the teen by his throat as the victim attempted to defend himself.
The victim’s girlfriend then drove her car in an effort to pick him up and take off from the frightening scene. Authorities said Fortney blocked her way out and the situation escalated quickly.
Fortney then “pulled out a six-inch folding knife,” before he stabbed Rodriguez in the chest, according to officials. He then stated, “You’re next,” to the victim’s girlfriend as she attempted to come to her dying boyfriend’s aid.
Prosecutors said witnesses called 911 and attempted to save Rodriguez—as Fortney recorded the victim’s last moments alive.
Fortney also eventually attempted to help the dying teen, officials said, but it wasn’t enough and Rodriguez died at a hospital.
The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced on November 19. He faces a maximum sentence of 16 years and eight months to life behind bars.
[Feature Photo: James Fortney/Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, Kevin Rodriguez/GoFundMe]