Man denies murdering father of 5 in road-rage stabbing

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SAN DIEGO -- A delivery service driver accused of stabbing a father of five to death during a South Bay road-rage dispute pleaded not guilty Thursday to a murder charge.

Rickey Vernon Smith, 60, was ordered held on $2 million bail.

Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey alleged that Smith stabbed 36- year-old Horace Williams Jr. six times in a "callous act" following what police said was a rolling altercation between the two men.

Smith was taken into custody shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday at the scene of the fatal encounter, which played out in a busy intersection alongside Chula Vista Golf Course.

The exact reason for the deadly run-in between Smith and Williams was unclear, though it began when one of them took exception to something the other did behind the wheel, sparking an exchange of angry shouts and gestures, Capt. Phil Collum said.

As the fracas escalated, Williams allegedly threw a soda cup at Smith, an off-duty FedEx warehouse worker, police said. Witnesses said Smith then used his white Ford Ranger pickup to ram the victim's minivan from behind.

A short time later, Smith's truck passed Williams' vehicle at Sweetwater Road and Willow Street and suddenly stopped in front of it, causing a second collision, Collum said.

At that point, Smith allegedly got out, stalked over to the Quest and punched Williams through the driver's-side window, then pulled a folding knife off his belt and stabbed the victim repeatedly, the captain said.

A witness interviewed by news crews described seeing the mortally wounded victim get out of his vehicle and fall onto the roadway, then get up and collapse again several more times before crumpling to the ground a final time, bleeding profusely.

The suspect, dressed in his work uniform, was still at the scene of the fatal encounter when patrol officers and paramedics arrived. He surrendered peaceably, Collum said.

Paramedics took the victim to Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, where he was pronounced dead.

Defense attorney Brian Watkins -- arguing that bail be lowered to $100,000 because his client was not a danger to the community --- alleged that Williams threw the first punch in the altercation and "there are two sides to every story."

Williams had just dropped off two of his five young daughters at school when he was killed less than two miles from his home, according to a page set up to raise funds for the family.

Smith will be back in court Dec, 19 for a readiness conference and Jan. 24 for a preliminary hearing. He faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted, Harvey said.

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