Winterset man charged in fatal hit-and-run
Posted Sep 14, 2009 by kyaker
One of Paul "Jud" McKinney's neighbors in Winterset
remembers wondering why he was working on his truck so late
at night. Now, she says, she thinks she knows.
McKinney, 79, was accused Monday of being the hit-and-run
driver who killed bicyclist Mark Grgurich on Aug. 30.
Amber Gustafson said she drove by McKinney's garage the day
after Grgurich was killed and noticed McKinney's garage
door was up and the front end of his truck was on jacks.
"It was about 9:30 or 10 o'clock at night and I heard a
really loud noise," she said. "I wondered what he was
doing, because it was so late. I slowed down a little bit,
but I didn't want him to think I was being nosy."
Gustafson said she didn't think about what she saw again
until she saw a picture of a white Chevrolet truck on the
evening news. "I put two and two together," she said.
Grgurich, 54, of Des Moines was hit and killed by a truck
traveling at high speed while he was riding his bicycle
east in the 3400 block of Warren County Road G14 near
McKinney appeared in Warren County District Court on Monday
on charges of leaving the scene of a fatality accident, a
felony; obstruction of prosecution by destruction of
evidence, an aggravated misdemeanor; and failure to
maintain control of a vehicle, a simple misdemeanor. He was
being held in the Warren County Jail on $10,000 bond.
Arraignment is set for Sept. 22.
Warren County sheriff's officials released on Sept. 3 a
surveillance picture of the white truck they believed
killed Grgurich, a goldsmith and jewelry designer at
Elements Ltd. in Des Moines.
Some Winterset residents said they recognized the truck
"The picture of the truck they showed on the news was his
truck," said Beverly Smith, who lives across the street
from McKinney. "I knew it was his truck. Everyone in town
would have known it was his truck."
Gustafson said before she saw the truck on the news, she
had noticed McKinney wasn't driving the truck anymore.
"Several people around town noticed it, too," she said. "He
was driving a car."
In Winterset, the truck with "Jud McKinney" written across
the driver's door was a common sight. Its license plate
said: "OHH YES." And it was covered with pro-police
One of them said: "I (heart) Cops." Another one indicated
the owner of the truck was a 2009 member of the Iowa State
Sheriffs and Deputies Association. Another sticker said he
was an honorary member of the Iowa State Troopers
Association. There was also a sticker for the Iowa State
Neighbors said the same night the surveillance picture of
the truck was released to the news media, crime scene tape
was stretched around McKinney's property.
"He's never been any kind of issue here in the
neighborhood," said neighbor Judy Fontana. "He's never
given me any suspicions or anything. ... He's been a good
McKinney had been caring for his ailing wife, neighbors
said. After police went to his house, his wife went to a
care facility, they said.
Court papers allege that on Aug. 30, McKinney was driving
east on County Road G14 in a 1986 Chevrolet pickup truck
when his truck struck Grgurich.
"After striking the bicyclist ... the defendant then left
the scene and failed to give aid and notify authorities of
the accident," court papers said. "After leaving the scene,
the defendant then destroyed, altered and tried to conceal
evidence of the accident that caused damage to his white
1986 Chevy truck."
Warren County authorities confirmed on Sept. 4 that a white
1986 Chevrolet pickup truck believed to have been involved
in Grgurich's death had been seized, but they did not
identify the truck's owner at that time or say whether the
owner was a suspect.
Bryan Tingle, assistant Warren County attorney, said
Monday, "After they found the truck, evidence was sent to a
lab. Based on the sheriff's investigation it was determined
we had enough to bring charges."
McKinney has had three traffic convictions since 1998 - one
for speeding, a child-seat violation and a registration
Sheena Thomas, a long-time friend and co-worker of
Grgurich's, said Monday that she was relieved to learn of
charges in the case.
"I guess my feeling - our feeling - is that until the
person has actually gone through a trial and been
convicted, he's innocent until proven guilty," Thomas
said. "We are not about revenge. But we do want the person
who did this to be held accountable for his actions. It
doesn't bring Mark back, and we are really missing Mark
here. He added a lot of creativity and productivity to this
shop. His presence was monumental here."