Man in deadly road rage fight released from jail

Crime

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A man arrested for a road rage fight along U.S. 30 last year that left a 60-year-old dead has been sentenced for a lesser battery charge after being acquitted of involuntary manslaughter.

Brandon M. Cook will be released from Allen County Jail at some point Tuesday after an Allen Superior Court judge sentenced him to a year for misdemeanor battery related to an altercation along U.S. 30 on August 8, 2018, that left Orlando Fernandez dead.

Cook has already served more than his sentence in jail, so with that time served credit, he’ll be released.

It was just before 5:30 p.m. that early August 2018 day when police were called to U.S. 30 near the US 33 interchange on a report of a battery that had taken place there. Responders arrived and and found Fernandez in serious condition.

Orlando Fernandez
Orlando Fernandez

He was downgraded to critical condition at the scene, and he was pronounced dead by doctors at a local hospital.

An autopsy determined Fernandez died of a heart incident directly triggered by the stress of the altercation. His death was ruled a homicide.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Fernandez was driving through a construction zone on eastbound US 30 at the Goshen Road overpass where traffic goes down to one lane in a black Mustang. A witness behind Fernandez told police a Dodge Ram moved in behind the Mustang and the pickup truck kept stopping abruptly, according to the witness as detailed in a probable cause affidavit.

That witness told police that at that point, the driver got out of the Dodge and punched Fernandez several times in the face, the affidavit said. That driver then got back into the pickup and drove away.

The witness went up to the Mustang and found Fernandez with cuts and blood on his face, according to the affidavit.

The witness was able to give law enforcement the Dodge’s license plate number, the affidavit said, and police were led to the previous owner of the truck. That person told police he had just sold the truck to Cook.

Police then spoke with a woman who was in the truck with Cook. According to the affidavit, she told police Fernandez was “brake checking” and “flipping them off” in the construction zone. Then, Cook got out of the truck and Fernandez got out of his car, she said.

The woman said at that point, Fernandez grabbed Cook by the neck as Cook punched him back three times, according to the affidavit. Cook then got back in the car and drove away, she said.

The woman also told police Cook learned through a news report that Fernandez had died. The woman said Cook left town.

Police found Cook a week later at a campground in Panama City, Florida, where he was living in a tent.

A Ford Mustang driven by Orlando Fernandez sits along U.S. 30 in Fort Wayne after a road rage altercation Aug. 8, 2018.

During a trial earlier this month, a jury found Cook not guilty of involuntary manslaughter related to Fernandez’s death. He was convicted of misdemeanor battery, however.

At Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, no family or friends of Cook or Fernandez appeared in the gallery or testified.

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