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Man charged months after death of woman in JCPenney parking lot

Court docs: Kody Key had THC in system at the time of the incident

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Kody Key

KODY KEY

Nine months after a Peru woman died after being struck by a vehicle in the JCPenney parking lot, a Kokomo man has been charged in her death.

On Sept. 4, Kody Key, 26, the man accused of hitting the woman with his truck, was arrested and charged with OWI while causing death. The charge came after a recently-completed blood toxicology test showed THC was in Key’s system at the time of the accident, according to court documents.

The arrest stems from an incident from Feb. 4 when, at about 1 p.m., Kokomo Police Department officers responded to an accident outside in the JCPenney parking lot. When they arrived on the scene, they found 76-year-old Sharon Edwards lying in the parking lot unresponsive. According to court documents, a white Dodge Ram 1500 was parked near Edwards, and the driver of the vehicle, Key, was “very upset” and “crying” outside the vehicle.

Officers spoke with two witnesses on the scene. One witness told them he “observed the white Dodge Ram turn south into the main drive beside JCPenney, and at that time he saw the female step off the curb. The white truck struck the female, and the female fell back, striking her head … the truck then backed up approximately two feet, and the driver exited the vehicle and went to the female who had been struck.”

Court documents also indicated Key spoke with officers on the scene. In a probable cause affidavit, one officer wrote, “I was told that Kody was making a turn, and he felt that the woman in question had made a hand gesture toward him to continue on. When he continued on, she stepped out in front of him, and he could not stop in time to avoid the collision.”

Key agreed to a blood draw and proceeded with officers to a local hospital to have the draw completed. Edwards later died on the morning of Feb. 5.

Post-accident investigations by KPD officers on Key’s vehicle yielded little evidence, with no damage, markings, or bodily fluids on the truck indicating an impact area. Additionally, one witness told officers he never heard any loud engine revving, squealing tires, or other audible indicators that the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed.

“[The witness] also believed that based on the fact the victim had fell nearly directly in front of the truck, he felt there was very little speed involved in the collision,” read the probable cause affidavit.

However, another witness told officers the truck may have been moving at a high rate of speed.

“[The witness] gave his opinion, believing that the Dodge Ram was moving at a high rate of speed,” read an affidavit. “He was asked if he observed the vehicle moving at a high rate of speed. He said he did not see the vehicle moving at a high rate of speed. He was asked if he heard a revving engine, squealing tires, or anything that would indicate to him that the vehicle was moving at a high rate of speed. He said he did not hear any of that. There was no information that [he] gave me to indicate that the Dodge Ram was moving at a high rate of speed other than his opinion that the vehicle was moving at a high rate of speed due to it reaching the end of the parking row prior to him reaching the end of the parking row.”

The officer went on to indicate in his affidavit that he “does not believe this collision was due to speed … it is due to communication error between the driver of the vehicle and the pedestrian who stepped out into traffic.” As a result, no criminal charges were filed against Key, pending toxicology results from his blood draw after the incident.

But then, on Aug. 6, a toxicology report from NMS Labs showed Delta-9 Carboxy THC and Delta-9 THC in Key’s system. No other substances were located in his system, according to the report.

A warrant was issued against Key on Sept. 3. He was arrested on Sept. 4 and bonded out of Howard County jail the same day. His bond was $2,500. The case is set for an initial hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 11.