During his first court appearance hearing Wednesday, Nov. 9, Chief Magistrate Jerry Day moved his case to Superior Court, Assistant District Attorney Beth Evans said.
Author-ities say Rockholt, who has been charged with murder, fired three bullets into 39-year-old Mark Pickett of Cloudland on Oct. 28 after Pickett refused to let Rockholt pass him on Ga. 193 in north Walker County.
Theres a lot of ifs here that we will, I guess, just never know, Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said. Im comfortable charging (Rockholt) with murder. Im confident we got the shooter.
Rockholt probably attempted to pass several times, Wilson said, adding that passing is illegal on much of the highway. He was not in favor of (Rockholt) passing, which is understandable in a no-passing zone, Wilson said.
Pickett slowed to a stop in the southbound lane near Garretts Chapel Road, where he confronted Pickett and was shot, Wilson said. There were no skid marks indicating Pickett slammed on the breaks.
Police recovered a .22-caliber weapon during Rockholts arrest at a Chattanooga residence. The gun has been sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab to compare with spent shells found at the crime scene, Wilson said.
Questions remain about a red car
There are several nagging details investigators may never be able to answer, especially regarding an encounter Pickett apparently had with another vehicle just before the shooting occurred, Wilson said.
Police were originally searching for a red Ford in connection with Picketts death, but discovered Rockholt was driving a green Saturn with his girlfriend as a passenger, Sheriff Wilson said.
The girlfriend is an eyewitness in the case and has not been named.
Wilson had based his information on interviews with Picketts 13-year-old daughter, who was in the truck with her father when he was killed. Her 6-year-old brother was also with them.
She said she saw a red car pull up behind her dad, Wilson said. Apparently (the driver of the red car) got up beside (her father) and went on. Now we know the red car pulled off somewhere and thats when the Rockholt vehicle fell in behind him.
Thats pretty well corroborated with interviews taken during (Rockholts) arrest, Wilson said. A vehicle turned off in front of (Rockholts vehicle) and they fell in behind the Pickett vehicle.
The only chance Picketts daughter had to identify a car was near Ridgeland High School on Ga. 2 around 8 p.m., the last area of the highway that was well-lit at that time of the evening, Wilson said.
The red car was the last car she saw that made an impression on her, Wilson said.
Authorities are now hoping the driver of the red car will contact them.
We now believe Rockholt and Pickett first met somewhere in the area of Ga. 193 and Happy Valley Road, Wilson said. Apparently Rockholt began tailgating Picketts vehicle, who started brake-checking Rockholts vehicle.
Whether there actually was (aggressive driving with the driver of the red car) or not is something well never know, he said. I really dont believe it rose to the degree that it was aggressive driving (with the first car on Ga. 2).
Pickett may not have realized a different car was behind him either, Wilson said.
As of Friday morning, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert Buzz Franklin said he did not know Pickett may have encountered two cars the night he was shot.
I dont know anything about this claim that there was somebody else involved with Mr. Pickett before that. I havent heard that, Franklin said.
Based on the facts I know, a murder charge does sound appropriate at this point, he said, adding I havent sat down at length with any of the investigators, nor have I seen any written reports.
Suspect has criminal record
Legal trouble was shadowing Rockholt before he allegedly shot Pickett, Franklin said.
Rockholt had an outstanding warrant (in Catoosa County) before this came up, Franklin said. They had been to his house and found some methamphetamine I believe, and he had also failed to report to his probation officer as required.
Rockholt was on probation after serving time for attempting to possess methamphetamine. He was arrested on that charge for being in a Lakeview house where a meth lab exploded, causing the death of an infant.
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