Court records: Man charged in fatal 'road rage' chase heard voices before crash
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The man indicted in what police call a road rage incident said he heard voices during a chase that led to a fatal crash, a police interview reveals.
Michael Nevins, 44, of Hodgenville, Ky., is charged with wanton endangerment, possession of a controlled substance and impersonating a peace officer.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges at arraignment in Jefferson Circuit Court Monday. On April 14, a grand jury indicted him in connection with the July 8, 2014 crash that killed Justin Beeler, 29, of Louisville.
In court records released Tuesday, police said Beeler fired shots at Nevins' vehicle as the two chased one another at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour along Southern Parkway. The chase started after the two men had an altercation at a nearby liquor store in which Nevins identified himself as a law enforcement officer, a police report states.
Nevins said in a recorded police interview that he had spoken to Beeler about the tinted windows on Beeler's car.
An autopsy report said Beeler died of blunt force trauma after he lost control of his vehicle and it struck a tree.
The records show Nevins' Chrysler 300 was struck by several bullets from Beeler's gun, a .45-caliber Glock pistol, which police found in the floor board of his wrecked Dodge Challenger.
Nevins told a police officer of hearing voices in his ear. During a recorded interview at the scene, Nevins said, "The earpiece was telling me" to chase Beeler.
Nevins also said in the interview that he worked for the Department of Defense, in "plain clothes, 24 hours a day." Police found nothing to substantiate the claim.
After the officer asked Nevins why he chased Beeler, Nevins paused several seconds and then said, "Because the voices were telling me that something was wrong. I don't know what was going on."
"It scared the hell out of me," Nevins said in the interview. "I remember seeing the gun come across, and gunshots were ringing in the car, and it was inside my car. I thought my car was shooting back out. I don't know. I really didn't know what was going on," he said.
Nevins said he did not see Beeler's car crash into the tree.
Nevins said in the interview that he followed Beeler to try to get his license number, and that he could not remember if he was in front of Beeler's vehicle or behind it when he looked at his speedometer and saw he was driving approximately 100 miles per hour.
Witnesses described Nevins and Beeler speeding "up and down" Southern Parkway.
"It looked like they had a Glock or something... sticking out of the window, shooting then, and he was emptying his gun at the other car," said a caller who reported the crash to a 911 call taker at MetroSafe. He had been driving along Southern Parkway.
The caller said he believed shots were coming from what police later identified as Nevins' car, rather than Beeler's.
"I knew he went like a bat out of hell past me, and went down to Ashland and turned around in the middle of the road, and the other car did the same thing, and they was going as fast as they could towards the expressway again," the caller to 911 said.
Court records also said lab tests showed Nevins had methamphetamine in his system after his arrest. They also detailed other drugs and drug paraphernalia found in his car.
A police report said "road rage" and "excessive speed" contributed to the crash.
In an interview last week, Beeler's mother, Joan Guelda, said her son Justin had to have felt threatened to pull out his gun and was likely just trying to get away.
"I'm glad they're going to press charges because it would be a terrible injustice if they didn't," Guelda said.
Nevins returns to court for a hearing on the Southern Parkway case May 21.
He faces a maximum 13 years in prison if convicted on all three counts.
Nevins is set to appear in court in June on unrelated charges following a traffic stop in 2013. He was charged with reckless driving, and police say he admitted to using meth earlier in the day.
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