The man who led police on an interstate chase after setting his house on fire and hijacking a taxi with his 4-year-old daughter was denied bond Wednesday.
Rodney DeWayne Smith, 20, appeared before Carroll County Magistrate Court Judge Alton Johnson, learning of his multiple charges following the Tuesday afternoon incident.
Smith faces numerous allegations, many of which are felonies, including arson, aggravated assault, hijacking a motor vehicle and armed robbery. The man — along with his 20-year-old girlfriend, Kimberly Rachel Duggar — allegedly led police on a chase from Bremen to Heflin, Ala.
Duggar is still in the hospital following the crash that ended the chase on Interstate 20 just outside the Alabama town. Once released from the hospital, she is anticipated to be transported to Carroll County jail and face similar charges.
Johnson read the warrants signed for Smith’s arrest, informing him of his next court date, set for May 2, a preliminary probable cause hearing. Other charges may be forthcoming from other jurisdictions.
Smith said he is currently out on bond from an Alabama court, not elaborating on the circumstances for the judge. An Internet search elicits no results in Smith’s recent criminal history for which he could be on bond.
Carrollton Police Department Chief Joel Richards said the couple, who recently moved to Carrollton from Birmingham, was at their Adamson Avenue residence when authorities were called about a fire around 2 p.m. Tuesday.
When fire crews arrived, the couple was asked to stay and answer questions, but they called a cab and left with a child, he said.
“The taxi driver took them to the McDonald’s on South Park Street, where (Smith) robbed him at gunpoint and hijacked his vehicle,” Capt. Chris Dobbs said. “They traveled north on Highway 27 to I-20, where they were spotted by Bremen police officers heading toward Alabama, who began the chase.”
Smith was driving the green Kia Sedona throughout the chase, Dobbs said, while Duggar had the firearm.
All four people in the mini-van — the taxi driver, the two suspects and the 4-year-old girl — were hospitalized following an accident that ended the chase at exit 205 on I-20 in Alabama, just outside Heflin.
The vehicle reportedly hit the back of a flatbed 18-wheeler near the exit, running off the road and crashing into a wooded area.
Smith was taken to Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton and later transported to Carroll County jail. Duggar was transported by helicopter to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. All injuries were not life-threatening, Dobbs said.
Smith currently faces 15 charges, many of which are traffic offenses like speeding, reckless driving and following too closely. In the more severe list of his charges, he faces armed robbery, cruelty to children in the third degree (a misdemeanor), aggravated assault, hijacking a motor vehicle, arson and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Johnson said Smith’s case could be presented to a grand jury for possible indictment as early as June. The defendant told the judge that he intends to retain an attorney, not requiring the services of the public defender.
Duggar will likely be transported to Carroll County jail soon, authorities said Wednesday. Once local, she will be present for a first appearance hearing like Smith’s.