Thursday, September 15, 2005


Former pastor indicted in high-speed chase

Waco, Texas - A well-known former pastor and civic fund-raiser was indicted Wednesday for an Aug. 19 incident in which he reportedly led police who had come to arrest him on a high-speed chase that ended in a traffic accident near China Spring.

A McLennan County grand jury indicted Ron Keener, 54, founding pastor of Stonegate Community Church, on a state jail felony charge of evading arrest/detention with a vehicle.

The incident began when Hewitt police officers arrived at Keener's residence about 3:30 p.m. to arrest him on outstanding theft-by-check warrants. Hewitt police Capt. Tuck Saunders said Keener gave officers a fake name, then jumped in a rental car and sped away.

Keener reached speeds up to 100 mph during the chase, which went from Hewitt, through Robinson and on to Farm-to-Market Road 1637, Saunders said.

Hewitt officers called off the pursuit for safety reasons before they reached peak afternoon traffic in school zones in China Spring, Saunders said.

Keener's car and another vehicle driven by a China Spring woman who had her 10-year-old daughter with her collided at the intersection of FM 1637 and Bend of the Brazos Road, according to Department of Public Safety reports.

Keener and the woman suffered unspecified “incapacitating” injuries in the accident, according to the DPS reports. The girl was uninjured.

Keener was taken to a hospital and arrested the next day. Besides evading, he was charged with failure to identify himself, having no driver's license, no insurance and passing in a no-passing zone.

He also was charged in the outstanding theft-by-check case, according to records filed in the case.

Keener's attorney, Walter M. Reaves Jr., of West, declined comment about Keener's indictment, as did prosecutor Kristi DeCluitt, who is handling Keener's case.

Keener preceded McLennan County District Attorney John Segrest as president of the Waco Kiwanis Club and had been active in a number of civic and community affairs for a number of years.

He resigned in March 1999 as pastor of Stonegate Community Church, which he helped organize largely with members from a Sunday school class he taught at First Baptist Church of Woodway. He was asked to leave the church after disputes with members about church expenditures and whether he repaid the church a $10,000 loan approved by church finance directors, church members have said.

Keener also was sued in 1999 by Gene Prickette, the former county tax assessor-collector, after Prickette alleged that Keener failed to repay a $39,000 loan. Prickette obtained a judgment against Keener but died while waiting for Keener to repay the loan.

Keener also served as director of development for Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center and worked with the Waco school system foundation.

See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.


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