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Man accused of NKC officer’s murder pleads not guilty in Clay County

Rocha Modified Mug.jpg
Posted at 6:02 PM, Sep 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 19:02:56-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The man who allegedly walked into the Clay County Annex in July and confessed to a murder a few hours after killing a North Kansas City police officer during a traffic stop pleaded not guilty Thursday to first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

Joshua Rocha, 24, appeared in Clay County Circuit Court two days after being indicted by a grand jury, though he’d already been charged July 20 by the Clay County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Rocha’s next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.

He could face the death penalty in Vasquez’s death, the first line-of-duty death in the history of the NKC Police Department.

Rocha admitted to investigators that he shot NKC Police Officer Daniel Vasquez during a July 19 traffic stop “because he did not want to go to jail or have his vehicle towed,” according to court records.

A multi-jurisdictional manhunt ensued after the shooting before Rocha walked into the annex and surrendered.

For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.

Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the KSHB 41 News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015. Read the KSHB 41 News Mug Shot Policy.