A man who allegedly stole a pickup truck and subsequently led police on a vehicle chase and later a foot pursuit through the streets of Roswell in October pleaded not guilty to three criminal charges Monday.
John Rice, 29, appeared in the Fifth Judicial District Court Monday for an arraignment.
Rice pleaded not guilty to one count of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle; one count of aggravated fleeing of a law enforcement officer; and one count of resisting, evading or obstructing an officer or refusal to stop.
He had waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Chaves County Magistrate Court.
Rice faces charges in the theft of a white F-150 pickup reported stolen Oct. 30.
The police pursuit of Rice and his wife Loretta, a passenger in the vehicle, began at 6 p.m. that same day, when an officer spotted the pickup at a carwash in the 1800 block of South Main Street.
Two units attempted to prevent the pickup from leaving the parking lot, but Rice escaped when he drove the pickup over a curb and turned onto South Main Street.
The pickup continued east on Church Street at a speed of 45 miles per hour and nearly collided with a vehicle when the pickup failed to yield at a stop sign at the intersection of East Church Street and South Grande Avenue.
The pursuit continued east on Church Street before the pickup turned south on South East Main Street and then east on Marker Road.
Officers then disengaged from the pursuit by shutting off their sirens and emergency lights, but continued to follow the pickup.
According to an affidavit, the pickup then turned onto Atkinson Street, was later spotted turning west on McGaffey Street and then north onto Jefferson Street before it turned west into a field.
The pickup was later abandoned and discovered unoccupied in a field west of Xcel Energy on the west side of the railroad tracks off Bland Street.
Officers were then advised to establish a perimeter west of the location of the pickup during a search for Rice and his wife, the affidavit stated.
John and Loretta Rice were eventually discovered hiding in a shed.
Loretta Rice later told police she did not know the pickup was stolen, never saw it before and did not ask John Rice about it when he arrived at her house in the pickup earlier in the day.
Loretta Rice told police that she ran with John Rice when the pursuit began because she did not want him to be alone.
John Rice remains at the Chaves County Detention Center as of Tuesday, according to the center’s Jail Population Summary Report.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.