GREENFIELD — Colby McKnelly has been charged with murder amid allegations he stabbed his friend during an argument, then took the man’s cellphone and left him to die, court records state.
Prosecutors had recently named McKnelly, 26, of Greenfield, a person of interest in the death of Steven Rogers, 26, of Indianapolis, who was found dead in McKnelly’s home at 14 N. Broadway St. Sunday morning.
McKnelly, who also suffered stab wounds during the fight, is now charged with murder and four other felonies – battery with serious bodily injury, strangulation, and two counts of criminal confinement.
He is also charged with intimidation and domestic battery, both misdemeanors.
McKnelly is accused of stabbing his girlfriend, Jessi Parsons-Freeman, 27, of Greenfield, during an altercation as well, court documents state.
Parsons-Freeman was treated for her injuries at Hancock Regional Hospital Sunday and released.
McKnelly underwent surgery at Methodist Hospital Sunday and was arrested Monday afternoon on an outstanding warrant from an unrelated case filed last week. He remained in Hancock County Jail on Wednesday.
A 10-page probable cause affidavit describes what police believe happened in the hours leading up to Rogers’ death. The details are sketchy, and there is no clear motive.
Here is what investigators say happened:
McKnelly and Parsons-Freeman drove to Indianapolis to pick up Rogers, an old friend of McKnelly’s from high school, on Saturday. McKnelly and Rogers had just recently reconnected, a friend of Rogers said, and the trio planned to have a few drinks at McKnelly’s house in Greenfield.
At some point in the evening, McKnelly and Parsons-Freeman began to argue, and Parsons-Freeman told police McKnelly pulled a knife on her in the bedroom, punched her in the face and knocked her to the floor, court records state.
“McKnelly straddled Freeman, holding her down and waving a knife in her face,” the probable cause affidavit states. “McKnelly also cut her legs with the knife while he held her down.”
Parsons-Freeman didn’t leave the house but sent a text message to a friend, asking her to call 911. Dispatch records do not indicate officers were called to the house as a result of that text.
Around 4 a.m., McKnelly told Parsons-Freeman he wanted to go to the home of Chris Cave, who lives down the street from McKnelly, “to kill him,” court records state.
Parsons-Freeman drove with McKnelly to Cave’s house but fled on foot after she got out of the car. McKnelly chased his girlfriend and stabbed her in the arm with a knife, court records state.
Later, McKnelly attempted to bandage Parsons-Freeman’s wound, she told police.
There is no indication from court records that McKnelly ever made contact with Cave, though he did speak to another man who was at Cave’s home. The pair talked about going to Illinois to cook methamphetamine at McKnelly’s relative’s house.
Around 5 a.m., McKnelly, Parsons-Freeman and Rogers were all in a bedroom together, “talking, not arguing, when McKnelly grabbed a knife and stabbed his friend in the chest,” court documents state.
McKnelly would later say Rogers attacked him first. They had all been drinking alcohol, McKnelly told police, before the two men got into an argument.
McKnelly said Rogers began yelling and accusing McKnelly of having struck a former girlfriend.
“I got attacked,” McKnelly told police, according to court documents. “Next thing I knew, he was on top of me, stabbing me, choking me, telling me I was gonna die.”
Parsons-Freeman told officers the opposite is true: McKnelly was the attacker, and Rogers acted in self-defense when he stabbed McKnelly in the side, according to court documents.
She told police McKnelly ordered her to strike Rogers with a flashlight if he tried to get up, but she refused.
Instead, McKnelly hit Rogers in the head with the flashlight each time he tried to stand – about five times – until Rogers finally stopped moving, Parsons-Freeman said.
After being stabbed, Rogers asked for his cellphone, saying he wanted to call his grandmother, but McKnelly took the phone and left the house, court documents state.
McKnelly ordered Parsons-Freeman to drive him to his mother’s home three miles away because he thought he was dying.
In a 911 call, Parsons-Freeman can be heard saying McKnelly threatened to kill her unless she drove him to his mother’s house.
Parsons-Freeman dropped McKnelly off at his mother’s home in the 400 block of West Weber Road and drove home to her parents’ house in the 900 block of South CR 250W.
Parsons-Freeman’s father called 911 and told dispatchers a man at 14 N. Broadway had been stabbed. When officers arrived, Rogers was already dead.
In the background of the 911 call, Parsons-Freeman can be heard, saying Rogers was defending himself and that she had begged him to call 911 around midnight after McKnelly had attacked her the first time, court documents state.
An officer said when he went to Methodist Hospital to interview McKnelly about what happened to Rogers, McKnelly said, “Did I get him?” according to court documents.
McKnelly’s mother, Arlene Scroggham, who owns the house where McKnelly was living, refused to give consent for a search of McKnelly’s house.
After obtaining a search warrant, police found two bloody knives, court records state.
An autopsy revealed Rogers suffered multiple stab wounds to the neck, chest and head, as well as a skull fracture.
A court date for McKnelly has not yet been scheduled, according to court records.