Cody Willcoxson, the man who led police on a high speed chase between Fort Leonard Wood and Rolla May 12, 2011 while firing rounds from an AK-47, was sentenced to two concurrent 30-year sentences in prison Monday for his actions in Pulaski County.
Cody Willcoxson, the man who led police on a high speed chase between Fort Leonard Wood and Rolla May 12, 2011 while firing rounds from an AK-47, was sentenced to two concurrent 30-year sentences in prison Monday for his actions in Pulaski County. Additional charges are still pending in Phelps County for the man, who claimed in court Monday that he was suicidal and high on crystal methamphetamine at the time of the incident. 25th Circuit Court Judge Tracy Storie handed down the strictest sentence recommended by the Sentencing Assessment Report provided to the court by the Board of Probation and Parole. Willcoxson pled guilty to two class A felonies in Pulaski County on April 4. His attorney, Matthew Crowell, had asked for a 17-year sentence while prosecutor Ken Clayton lobbied for at least 20 years behind bars. During the sentencing hearing, the mother of Willcoxson’s daughter testified on his behalf. Carly Akers, of Grove, Okla., said she was in shock when she heard the crimes Willcoxson was accused of. “I don’t know what the heck came upon him that day,” she said during the sentencing hearing. She said she considered him her best friend and that he was an excellent father to their now 2-year-old child. Willcoxson testified that shortly before the incident, he had undergone surgery to have his appendix removed. He stated the surgery and time off from work ultimately ended in him abusing crystal meth for a period of days. He said he ended up in Springfield where he continued abusing the drug. Eventually, he said his aimless wanderings ended at the west gate of Fort Leonard Wood. “I was driving and I accidentally went on post,” he said. Willcoxson claimed the chase started when he was asked for his driver’s license, which was suspended. As police pursued him through Pulaski County, Willcoxson said he made a fateful decision. “I wanted the cops to kill me,” he testified, citing depression and drug abuse as the reasons behind his suicidal thoughts. Willcoxson also claimed he had the assault rifle with him in order to commit suicide by police. “I had the gun with me. My intent was to have the cops kill me,” he said in court. Ultimately, Willcoxson fired more than 90 rounds at pursuing officers as he traveled at high rates of speed on Interstate 44. Nearly six minutes of tape from a police cruiser dash camera was shown to Storie during the hearing. After showing Storie the camera footage, Clayton called Willcoxson’s spree an “enormous public danger,” and noted that during the chase in Pulaski County he passed numerous school buses carrying children, vehicles with innocent drivers and even tanker trucks carrying fuel and other substances on the interstate. “It is troubling to me that this occurred … it is troubling to me that this occurred in this county,” Clayton said during his remarks. During his time on the stand, Willcoxson apologized, saying he never meant to hurt anyone. “I’d like to apologize to everybody,” he said. “I wish this had never happened.” Crowell asked that the judge consider the influence of drugs and depression when sentencing his client, saying that while meth was not the cause of Willcoxson’s actions, it did have a substantial impact on his state of mind. “Had he (Willcoxson) been clean, had he not been on meth, we probably wouldn’t be here today,” Crowell said. And while both Clayton and Storie agreed that drugs were a factor, the judge said Willcoxson had many opportunities to prevent the actions of May 12, 2011 from ever taking place. “You were capable of making rational decisions,” Storie said before handing down the sentence. “You risked the lives of … probably hundreds of people. “The bottom line is, you made a decision,” he concluded before sentencing Willcoxson to the 30-year prison term. This was not Willcoxson’s first brush with the law. He has been in and out of prison since his late teens, mostly on burglary charges, although it was noted in court that he escaped twice from an Oklahoma prison. At one point he was on the lam for nearly four years. He still faces sentencing in Phelps County for his actions in that jurisdiction.