A man was found dead from a gunshot wound in a marijuana garden on his Jupiter-area property early Wednesday, and the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death as a homicide.
The man was identified as Scott Andrew Rockey, 31.
The family was notified of Rockey’s death., Sgt. Andrea Benson said Wednesday morning.
No one has been arrested or charged yet in the crime, she said.
Benson declined to answer any additional questions about the case.
“This is an active homicide investigation, and detectives are still interviewing and gathering information. That is all the information they have for public release at this time,” Benson said in an email.
In a response to a member of the public on the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, a Sheriff’s Office representative said more than 12 plants were found at the property.
According to a Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office press release, deputies responded to an area near Rose Creek off Italian Bar Road in Jupiter Tuesday night about 10 p.m. on a report that a man was shot.
Rockey was found dead in a marijuana garden, the press release stated, and detectives also interviewed witnesses at the scene.
A 3-year-old child found in a home on the property was taken into custody by Child Welfare Services workers.
The mother of the child, Katelyn Tracy, 26, of Sonora, said Wednesday afternoon that the child was safe in her custody.
Tracy said she was told by a Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office deputy that the boy was asleep at the time of the shooting.
Tracy said her and Rockey were no longer a couple and they shared custody of the boy, but she did not witness the shooting.
“I have no idea who could have done this to him. I just don’t think this was about his plants. I think it was about something else,” she said. “He told me a thousand times that if anybody came for his plants he would take our son and leave because it wasn’t worth it.”
Tracy said she was not provided with any additional information about the shooting, but spoke to Rockey’s parents Wednesday morning who were “upset” and “asked what happened.”
Rockey is from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, and moved to the Stockton area about five or six years ago. After Rockey moved to the Twain Harte area, he and Tracy entered into a two-year relationship, during which she gave birth to their son, she said.
Tracy said Rockey did not have a job, but received disability from a traumatic brain injury he sustained seven years when he fell out of a truck.
She was not aware if he was ever diagnosed with cognitive or mental issues as a result of the accident, she said.
Tracy last saw Rockey on Sunday when they exchanged their son at Twain Harte Park. She expected to see him on Thursday when their son would be returned to her custody, she said.
Tracy said she believed Rockey’s property is in compliance with marijuana cultivation laws.
Rockey, a woman and a small child were contacted by Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Tuolumne County Code Compliance officials and Union Democrat reporters during abatement sweeps of the Jupiter area in late June.
The property where Rockey was contacted had about 370 marijuana plants, many of which were only semi-mature and read “KK” and “OG18” on the side of black pots outside of a grow tent.
Tracy said the property did not belong to Rockey, but he was working on it, and that she was not aware of any criminal contacts Rockey may have had with law enforcement.
Rockey was contacted during two fires over the summer which ignited from uncontrolled burn piles, she said.
The Ruby Fire, a 3-acre blaze on June 13 near the 28500 block of Italian Bar Road in the Jupiter area, was suspected to have been caused by an escaped residential burn pile. The area is just north of Rose Creek Circle.
This is the first reported homicide in Tuolumne County in more than a year.
Elton Redick, 43, was arrested on suspicion of murder following the death of Marc DeJong, 48, at a property on Black Road in Big Oak Flat on Sep. 25.
DeJong was discovered dead from two gunshot wounds to the head and face and covered with a blanket in a locked shed on the property.
Redick is still awaiting trial on the charges.
Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.