Man charged in test drive slaying

October 9, 2008 2:18:32 PM PDT
A 42-year-old man who was test driving a pickup truck has been charged with capital murder after the car salesman who was with him was found dead along an interstate, police said. Witnesses told police that salesman John Phinney fell from the passenger side of the pickup during the test drive Tuesday night. It was unclear whether Phinney was pushed from the truck, which was probably traveling more than 50 mph, police said.

James Thorpe, 42, was arrested later Tuesday and was being held Wednesday on a $3 million bond at a Dallas County jail. It was not immediately clear whether Thorpe had an attorney.

Thorpe denied pushing Phinney out of the vehicle in jailhouse interviews with Dallas-Fort Worth television stations. He said the car salesman jumped out while the vehicle was going about 50 mph.

Police in the Dallas suburb of Richardson were contacted after Phinney didn't return from the test drive.

"He never had any ill will towards anybody. He was the nicest guy in the world," Aaron Miller, the sales manager at Manuel Dodge, said in Tuesday's online edition of The Dallas Morning News.

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