Early in the morning of December 6, 2017, Rodney “Cockeye” Stepp was shot and killed in his driveway in Martin County, Kentucky. His friend Elwood “Woody” Six was arrested on the scene and charged with second-degree manslaughter, a charge that was later upgraded to first-degree manslaughter, WYMT reported at the time. Six pleaded not guilty and said the shooting was an act of self-defense.
The case is being explored on A&E’s “Accused: Guilty or Innocent?” which documents cases from the perspective of the accused, including their defense, trial and how their family is handling the process. The second season’s premiere episode, titled “Best Friend Killing or Self-Defense?” followed Six after he is charged with his friend’s shooting death.
Heavy spoke with Six’s defense attorney Brandis Bradley about the episode, the latest with Six and everything viewers didn’t get to see on the show.
Stepp Was Shot & Killed in His Driveway by Six After the 2 Spent the Day Christmas Shopping
The court heard that on December 5, 2017, Six agreed to take Stepp Christmas shopping in the afternoon because his friend had been drinking and was unable to drive himself, Bradley shared with Heavy. Six, 66 at the time, was more than just a friend to Stepp, 46; he was also the first cousin of Stepp’s father, who’d passed away in recent years.
The two spent the afternoon and evening running errands and after several stops, they arrived back at Stepp’s house just before 3 a.m. on December 6. According to Bradley, the evidence showed that the two had been arguing on-and-off throughout the day as Six was trying to get Stepp to stop drinking while Stepp was angry with him for nagging.
The tension kept rising between the two and Stepp was aggressive and threatening toward Six while he got in his truck to leave, Bradley told the court during Six’s trial. The situation escalated and Six shot Stepp once. The prosecution argued during the trial that the angle of the shooting and the bullet’s entry meant that Six was likely still in his truck during the shooting, Bradley explained.
She also told Heavy the defense’s position was that her client knew his friend was armed and Stepp reached for his pocket, causing Six to shoot him in self-defense. On the 911 call, Six could be heard saying that Stepp had him by the throat and wouldn’t let him go and that he was afraid Stepp would kill him, Bradley shared.
After hearing the arguments from the prosecution and the defense, the jury found Six not guilty of manslaughter but convicted him on the reckless homicide charge. According to Kentucky law, that charge means “with recklessness he cause[d] the death of another person.”
A Police Officer Pulled Over the Pair Shortly Before the Shooting & Said Stepp Was Angry
During Heavy’s interview with Bradley, she revealed that there was key evidence that didn’t make the final edit of the “Accused: Guilty or Innocent?” episode, including an interesting exchange between Stepp and a police officer the night of the fatal shooting. As viewers saw, Stepp made a “Cockeye Live” video on Facebook from Walmart while Six waited in the vehicle.
Bradley said after he left the store, a Walmart employee called the police and reported that Stepp was “highly intoxicated” and they weren’t sure if he was driving, so they gave authorities a description of his vehicle. Three minutes later, a police officer saw the vehicle and it crossed the double line on the highway, so he decided to stop them and see if the “highly intoxicated” man from Walmart was driving.
Bradley told Heavy that Six, who was the one behind the wheel, had been telling Stepp to cut back on his drinking and Stepp became angry and agitated so Six decided to plug in his phone and play some gospel music. She said he crossed the double line as he was searching for the cable to connect his phone to the stereo system.
According to Bradley, the police officer wrote in his incident report after the traffic stop that Stepp was belligerent, angry and cussing about the situation. Since Six was the one driving and completely sober, the police officer simply issued a citation for crossing the double line and for failing to produce proof of insurance for the vehicle, which belonged to Stepp and his wife.
The episode didn’t include that evidence, which showed that Stepp did have the capacity to become angry while drinking. In fact, viewers might wonder why Bradley didn’t call any character witnesses of her own, especially after the prosecution called Six’s neighbor, state trooper Mike Goble, to testify that Six, not Stepp, had a reputation in the community for being violent.
“It was a strategic decision,” Bradley explained, because there was no lack of character witnesses they could have called. If they had, however, it would have “opened the door to the prosecution” to call more witnesses like Goble and it wouldn’t have benefited their defense. Goble’s testimony really affected Six’s wife Joann, Bradley added, but told Heavy she’s hopeful that the show will help people see Six in a more compassionate, sympathetic light.