By Joe Beck
The prosecution dropped six charges Tuesday, including three felonies, against a Front Royal man in a case involving a truck that police say rolled toward a squad car after the truck's occupants fled their vehicle.
James Kevin Peacoe Jr., 18, of 1525 N. Shenandoah Ave., walked out of Warren County General District Court a free man after Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Layton told Judge W. Dale Houff that the case against Peacoe had collapsed.
Layton cited problems with the usefulness and availability of witnesses, including one who later died in an unrelated traffic accident, as his reason for dropping the case.
Another witness is being held in jail elsewhere and another has developed "memory issues," Layton said in an interview after the hearing.
"At the end of the day, it matters whether I can prove the case," Layton said, adding that he may try to obtain a grand jury indictment against Peacoe.
Peacoe had been charged with felony counts of auto theft, vandalism exceeding $1,000 and eluding police whIle endangering someone in a police car. He had also been facing two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and driving on a suspended or revoked license.
Police said a Front Royal officer stopped Peacoe while he was driving a stolen 1981 Chevrolet pickup truck on Sixth Street in Front Royal at about 1:05 a.m. on June 11 after he ran through a stop sign and almost hit a police car.
Peacoe and three passengers left the truck as it rolled toward the police squad car, forcing the officer to put his car in reverse, according to police reports.
Authorities say the truck eventually ran off a bridge and came to a rest on its side.
One of the passengers in the vehicle, Coty James Ferguson, was charged with two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He died Aug. 3 in a crash off a bridge on Morgan's Ford Road.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org