By Maggie Seybold
A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to felony murder and other charges stemming from a high-speed police chase that led to the death of a man who was heading to work after stopping for tea with his mother.
Tyquanne McCargo, 24, also pleaded guilty to eluding police and reckless driving. He faces up to 46 years in prison. Rockbridge County Circuit Judge Anita Filson scheduled McCargo’s sentencing for 1 p.m. on June 13.
Ricky Stuart Deacon, 55, of Fairfield, was killed when his Dodge Ram was hit head-on by McCargo’s Nissan Pathfinder.
During a hearing Monday, McCargo addressed Deacon’s family. “I think of the situation every day and will regret my decision every day of my life,” he said. “I never meant to take a loved one from you…I just wish for forgiveness.”
The incident began when McCargo was pulled over for speeding on I-81 near the 184-mile marker at 8:38 a.m. on Dec. 10.
At the hearing, a prosecutor played a videotape from a state police dashboard camera that showed McCargo fleeing in his Pathfinder. State Trooper Josh Marshall had walked to his cruiser to run a background check on McCargo through the police database.
The check revealed that McCargo had an outstanding arrest warrant for credit-card fraud in Caroline County. The video shows Marshall jumping back into his cruiser and chasing McCargo.
McCargo used the right shoulder of the highway to speed past cars. On the video, Marshall ticks off the speed that he has to maintain as he tries to keep up with McCargo.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Billias said McCargo reached 130 miles per hour before taking Exit 200 toward Fairfield. As McCargo continued to speed down rural roads, Marshall backed off and eventually lost sight of the Pathfinder.
Billias said a witness saw McCargo cross the center line on Route 710 and crash into an oncoming Dodge Ram. The prosecutor said Deacon was not wearing his seatbelt, and was pronounced dead at 9:07 a.m.
Before going to work, Deacon had tea with his mother every day, Billias said.
Cindy Deacon, Ricky Deacon’s widow, buried her face in her hands as the video played.
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” Billias said. “The video told a story that was very compelling. It told a story that the state trooper wouldn’t have been able to.”
McCargo also was seriously injured and had to be airlifted to Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Three months later, he used a cane to walk into the courtroom.
A defendant may be charged with felony murder if someone dies during the commission of a dangerous crime, regardless of intent. Billias dropped manslaughter and obstruction of justice charges as part of an agreement with the defendant.
Defense attorney Neill Wente said McCargo was on his way to a baby shower for his unborn child when the crash occurred.
“[McCargo] wasn’t aware of the warrant for his arrest,” Wente said. “When he was pulled over, he made a split-second decision and panicked.”
The defendant also apologized to the officers, their families, and his family.
“It’s a human tragedy all the way around,” Wente said. “His family will deal with this forever.”
Billias said he thinks the state police acted appropriately during the chase.
“[The officer] followed at a safe distance and started backing off at Sterrett Road,” Billias said.
The prosecutor also said that Deacon’s relatives want a strict sentence for McCargo.
“When someone is taken from you in an unbelievable manner, there have to be consequences,” Billias said. “I’m surprised there weren’t more people harmed.”