Van Driver Held on $100,000 Bond – Homicide Charges Possible [WATCH]
The man who drove a dead body from Spokane to Missoula's St. Patrick Hospital, Leo Antonio Rodriguez, 34, appeared in Missoula Justice Court via video Tuesday afternoon from the Missoula County Jail, charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm..
The dead man, identified earlier in the day as Jake Colvin, 25, was killed as the result of a gunshot wound, and was discovered in the passenger seat of the Chevy Suburban, according to court records, already in a state of rigor mortis. Officers noted that Rodriguez had exited the vehicle with Colvin's body inside, and gone into the hospital's rest room. A search discovered that Rodriguez had hidden a .380 handgun inside a trash receptacle.
At his court appearance, Deputy Missoula County Attorney Selene Koepke asked substitute Justice of the Peace Anthony Vannatta for a substantial bail.
"The State is recommending a bail of $100,000," Koepke said. "The State has learned that the defendant has had extensive gang activity in California and has been to prison there several times, and has a lengthy criminal record. At the time of his arrest the defendant admitted that he was using meth and heroin, and the state believes that the defendant is not one who abides by society's laws or court orders. Because he has no ties to Missoula, the state requests a bond of $100,000."
Rodriguez, through the public defender asked for a significantly lower bail amount, however, Koepke gave the judge more important information regarding the defendant.
"The State should also point out that the city police and the Spokane Police Department are actively investigating this as a homicide charge," she said.
Judge Vannatta set bail at $100,000, and Rodriguez was returned to the Missoula County Jail.
Several questions remain surrounding this incident.
Why did Rodriguez drive the victim's body all the way from Spokane to Missoula? Was there a drug connection? Was Colvin shot en route to Missoula and died on the way? How many times was he shot, and where?
The SUV has been taken to the State Crime Lab, and in addition, Colvin's body has undergone an autopsy to determine the exact cause and manner of death, but those details have not yet been made available.
Both Missoula and Spokane authorities are continuing their investigation.