A man killed by a driver during a suspected road rage confrontation in Chula Vista earlier this week was stabbed six times in what a prosecutor called a "callous" act.
Rickey Smith, 60, faces one count of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Horace Williams, 36. Smith was arraigned in court Thursday; he pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree murder in the disturbing case.
San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey called the killing of Williams "callous and very vicious."
She said Smith stabbed Williams six times including twice on the chest, puncturing his heart. Williams also suffered four defensive wounds to his hand, forearm and leg.
“I use the words callous, vicious and violent; I believe that’s exactly how you describe this,” Harvey said. “There was some incident between these two men in their vehicles but what the defendant then did by getting out and coming up to the window, and to begin punching a man who was seated in the car, and then to begin stabbing him is certainly very callous and very vicious.”
Smith, who is being represented by prominent San Diego defense attorney Brian Watkins, had his bail set at $2 million. Watkins asked for bail to be reduced to $100,000, plus monitoring of his client.
Watkins argued that Smith is not a danger to the community or a flight risk.
The defense attorney said Williams was the aggressor and allegedly threw the first punch in the roadside altercation. He said Smith suffered a brain injury a few years back and couldn't stand to take a hit.
More than 50 people, including many members of Smith's church, showed up to support the suspect at his arraignment. His wife of 39 years also sat in the gallery.
Watkins said there are "two sides to every story."
Williams -- a father of five daughters, ages 1 to 9 -- was killed Tuesday morning at the intersection of Willow Street and Sweetwater Road after dropping his daughters off at school.
The stabbing was the violent culmination of a dispute that took place between Smith and Williams as they drove in the area.
Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) Capt. Phil Collum said witnesses spotted the men yelling at one another as they drove in what he, at first, called a "rolling altercation."
Smith was in a white Ford Ranger, Williams was in a silver minivan.
Investigators said that as the dispute escalated, Smith pulled up alongside Williams and allegedly threw a soda at him.
Moments later, Smith pulled in front of Williams' van and slammed on his brakes, causing Williams to rear-end him, according to police.
CVPD called the collision minor but what happened next was anything but that.
Following the fender-bender, Smith got out of his truck, approached Williams and, according to witnesses, punched him through a window. Smith then stabbed Williams with a retractable blade knife. That knife was found in Smith's belt when officers arrived, according to the CVPD.
Watkins argued Williams was responsible for the attack because he twice threw objects at Smith.
Watkins said Smith approached Williams' window to ask what the problem was and was struck by Williams who then reached under his seat for something.
When police got to the area, Williams was lying on the ground, suffering from stab wounds. Remnants of blood could be seen on the roadway.
Williams was rushed to a local hospital but ended up dying a short time later, Collum said. The stabbing took place less than two miles away from Williams' home, his family said.
Smith waited at the scene and cooperated with police as they began questioning him. Ultimately, he was arrested on one count of first-degree murder.
Smith was not injured in the altercation, Collum said.
The police captain called the incident a "tragedy" and said that, while cases of road rage do occur, the severity of this case takes it to a new level.
Collum said the area around the intersection is highly-trafficked and he believes there could be several witnesses who saw a portion of the events leading up to the stabbing. Any of those details could help police piece together what happened as the investigation continues.
Collum said witnesses can call the CVPD's tip line at (619) 422-TIPS.
NBC 7 learned that Smith is a deacon and plays the organ at St. Stephen's Church of God in San Diego where his wife is also a youth minister.
Those who know Smith were shocked to hear of his arrest, including Bishop George McKinney, who told NBC 7 the incident is completely out of character for Smith and he has no idea what could have set him off.
Meanwhile, Williams' family is distraught and trying to cope with the abrupt loss of their loved one. Williams' brother told NBC 7 the father of five was engaged and had planned to wed on his birthday, next March.
Loved ones have created an online fundraiser page to help cover funeral costs. On that GoFundMe page, Williams is described as a "funny, laid-back and amazing person."