Update: The trial of Joshua Carver was moved Monday morning to Courtroom 101, before Judge Chris France.
Jonathan Raymond Rogers was less than two weeks shy of his 30th birthday on On Feb. 27, 2020. He was walking on the right shoulder of State Road 100 about 1.2 miles west of County Road 302.
Levartis Hackney, a Palm Coast resident, was driving east on 100. A white work van passed him, traveling west. Hackney looked in his rearview mirror. He saw the van swerve off the road to the right–and strike Rogers. Hackney saw him “become airborne and then land in the ditch,” according to the Florida Highway Patrol’s report of the crash. And he saw the van continue to drive west.
Hackney and his passenger called 911 and gave a full description of what they had just witnessed. Paramedics pronounced Rogers dead at the scene.
The man at the wheel of the Nissan van was Joshua Charles Carver, now 34, a resident of Putnam County who on Monday goes on trial before Circuit Judge Terence Perkins on a charge of leaving the scene of a crash with a death, a first degree felony with a minimum mandatory prison term of four years, if convicted, and a maximum term of 30 years. Absent a resolution in the case–a plea or a continuance–jury selection is expected to begin Monday morning.
Soon after the hit-and-run, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office issued a be-on-the-lookout alert to neighboring law enforcement agencies. Matthew Butler, a deputy with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, spotted Carver stopped on the shoulder of State Road 100 in Putnam. The right side of the van looked damaged–and fit the description Butler had just received in the BOLO. Butler pulled over. The van’s right-side headlight glass was missing, so was the right-turn signal headlight assembly.
“Upon closer inspection of the van he found what appeared to be blood spatter on the right side of the van,” FHP’s report states. “The blood spatter started at the front of the van near the damage, and continued down the right side of the van to the passenger side door.”
The deputy detained Carver.
The case was investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol’s traffic homicide investigator Pete Young. They traced tire marks in the zone of impact, found a maroon backpack near Rogers–who was from Orlando, and Brevard before that–and found his injuries to be unquestionably the result of a collision with a vehicle, with shards of headlight glass and other debris later tied to Carver’s van found in the vicinity of the collision. Maroon fibers were found embedded in the damaged parts of the van.
Carver was read his rights but agreed to speak to law enforcement that evening. He said he’d been traveling west, doing 55. He recalled a flatbed truck was traveling in front of him. He said some debris fell off that truck, causing him to swerve right. He said he recalled striking the debris, then swerving back onto the road. When he realized his windshield had cracked, he called his supervisor and told him what happened, but kept driving. A few miles later–a considerable distance, because he was in Putnam County by then–his temperature gauge started rising, so he pulled over. He said he never knew he’d struck a pedestrian, and never called law enforcement.
Authorities detected no sign of impairment when they spoke with him.
The crash had taken place at 5 p.m. He was placed under arrest at 7:20 p.m. and booked at the Putnam County jail. He was transferred to the Flagler County jail the same evening. Bond was set at $100,000. His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Bill Bookhammer, argued for a bond reduction. Perkins reduced the bond to $35,000, which Carver was able to post about two weeks after the crash.
Rogers was not married and had no children. He was buried in Spotsylvania, Va. In Rogers’s obituary, his family had written: “In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Autism Speaks, www.autismspeaks.org.”
Trials in Flagler County had been suspended for a few weeks due to Covid until Monday. The felony court docket includes several potential trials in addition to that of Carver, among them that of Tessie Lynn Clark, who faces a third-degree felony charge of child neglect. Clark was arrested last February at her Beechwood Lane home in Palm Coast after her 3-year-old son was found wandering the streets of the B-Section. Deputies at the time estimated he’d been wandering unsupervised for an hour. A passer-by alerted authorities. The child was some 50 yards from Belle Terre Parkway when the witness spotted him.
The boy had no shoes on and was unkempt. When Sandra Elswick, the child’s maternal grandmother, drove up to where the child was with a deputy, Elswick started yelling at the child, according to the deputy’s report. Clark, pregnant at the time, was at home. She told deputies she’d placed her son in the backyard and gone back in to clean, though she was aware of a break in the backyard fence.
Three other trials are also scheduled to start Monday. Typically, some of the scheduled trials will result in continuances or dispositions, while others may be parceled off to another judge, or–if a trial is not expected to take more than two days–delayed to later in the week, since Perkins can only preside over one of them. Jury selection begins at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 401 at the Flagler County courthouse.