A Kokomo man accused of fatally striking a woman with his vehicle in the JCPenney parking lot in early 2019 was sentenced to in-home detention last week during a plea hearing inside Howard Circuit Court.
According to court records, Kody Key was originally arrested in September 2019 on a Level 4 felony charge of causing death when operating a motor vehicle with a schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance in the blood.
However, during last week’s hearing, Key pleaded guilty to a lesser included charge — operating a vehicle with a scheduled 1 or 2 controlled substance in a person’s body, a C misdemeanor.
Circuit Court Judge Lynn Murray told the Tribune on Monday that Key’s plea agreement — which was filed in July — was mutually agreed upon by the prosecution, the defense and the family of the victim, Sharon K. Edwards, 76, of Peru.
Pursuant to that plea agreement, Key was sentenced to 60 days in the Howard County Criminal Justice Center, all suspended except for 30 days spent on in-home detention, court records stated.
Key will also serve 335 days on supervised probation, and he must attend and complete a drug and alcohol program.
It was around 1 p.m. Feb. 4, 2019, when officers with the Kokomo Police Department were dispatched to Kokomo Town Center in response to an incident involving Key and Edwards.
According to police reports at the time, Edwards was struck by Key’s 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 truck, and she was unconscious and unresponsive when first responders arrived on scene.
Those same reports noted that Key stayed on the scene and appeared visibly upset after the incident, telling police that he was traveling southbound in front of the store and didn’t see Edwards as she stepped off the curb in front of him.
He also told authorities he felt that Edwards “had made a hand gesture toward him to continue on” and couldn’t “stop in time to avoid the collision,” the affidavit indicated.
Police also talked to two individuals who witnessed the incident, a police narrative by investigating officer Troy Hintz stated at the time.
One of those witnesses told authorities that he didn’t believe speed was a factor in the incident — as he didn’t hear any squealing tires or revving engine prior to the incident — and that Edwards fell backward and struck her head on the pavement upon impact.
Another advised Hintz that he heard what sounded like “bags hitting the ground” after the collision, court records noted, and that Key got out of the vehicle after the incident occurred to assist.
Key’s vehicle was taken in for further investigation after the crash, and authorities noted in the affidavit that they could not find any area of the vehicle that was determined to be the “exact area of impact,” and the truck’s Event Data Recorder (EDR) was also not able to record an impact great enough to record an incident within its system.
Per standard procedures, police ended up taking Key to a local hospital for a blood draw, and authorities noted that he went willingly.
The case was suspended at that point, pending toxicology results.
When the results came back in the fall of 2019, it was determined that Key had approximately 24 ng/ML of Delta-9 Carboxy THC in his system at the time of the collision, along with around 1.5 ng/ML of Delta-9 THC. A warrant was then issued for Key’s arrest.
He was taken into custody without incident.