According to Alexandria Duval, the death of her identical twin sister last year was a tragic mishap — the result of a car crash on a narrow Hawaii road.
But to authorities, it was no accident: Duval has been charged with murder in what police say was an intentional decision to take her sister’s life.
Now Duval is fighting to clear her name and claims prosecutors deceived a grand jury that indicted her.
According to the Star-Advisor, Duval was driving a sports-utility vehicle in May 2016 with her sister, Anastasia, who was in the passenger seat, when the vehicle sped over a Maui cliff and plunged 200 feet below.
A witness reportedly saw the sisters pulling each other’s hair and fighting over the steering wheel while the SUV was traversing the winding, narrow highway.
Anastasia was killed in the crash and Duval was arrested, but a judge released her after finding there wasn’t any probable cause to support a murder charge.
Duval later moved to upstate New York, where the sisters were born, but she was arrested a second time in Albany after she was indicted by the grand jury.
nLast week her defense lawyer, Birney Bervar, filed a court motion arguing that the murder charge should be dismissed, the Associated Press reports. According to the motion, a witness who saw the crash didn’t testify before the grand jury, but rather a detective told grand jurors what that person saw.
Critically, the detective’s testimony was inaccurate about a key detail, according to the defense.
The detective claimed the witness said Anastasia wasn’t pulling Duval’s hair when the vehicle drove over the cliff, however Bervar contends the witness actually did see hair-pulling and fighting until he lost sight of the vehicle and it went off the road. Bervar says he has interviewed the witness to verify this account.
An autopsy found that Anastasia had “long, loose blond hairs” on both of her hands.
Bervar also contends that a police officer inaccurately testified that data from the vehicle showed Duval didn’t try to brake before crashing.
An expert hired by the defense says data from the air bag shows Duval “most probably did not push and hold the throttle to the floor and make a hard left towards the wall as stated in the grand jury testimony,” the motion states. “It is probable that having the drivers’ head pulled firmly to the right from the pulling of her hair could have caused some erratic driving.”
Prosecutor Emlyn Higa alleges the hair-pulling didn’t affect Alexandria’s driving ability and did not contribute to the vehicle veering over the cliff.
Instead of dismissing the case a jury will have to resolve the factual questions, she said.
Bervar contends that is not appropriate.
“This case is clearly a tragic accident,” he said. “My client is devastated by the loss of her sister. It’s not intentional murder by any means.”
The sisters were born Alison and Ann Dadow near Utica, New York. They ran yoga studios in Florida before changing their names, moving to Utah and then later moving to Hawaii in 2015.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for next week.
[Feature image: Maui Police Department/Alexandria Duval]