The murder trial is underway for Alexandria Duval, accused of killing her twin sister Anastasia Duval in a dramatic car crash in Hawaii in 2016.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Alexandria Duval is facing trial in Hawaii this week for the manslaughter of her identical twin sister, who died when Anastasia’s SUV plunged off a cliff in Maui on May 29, 2016. The sisters were 37 years old.
Alexandria was behind the wheel, but does not appear to have suffered any permanent injuries, though she was briefly in critical condition immediately following the crash. According to CBS News, she was arrested a week after the accident, but released only days later due to lack of probable cause. But in November of 2016, a grand jury indicted her and she was arrested in Albany, New York, near her hometown, and extradited to Hawaii to be tried.
Duval has reportedly opted out of a jury trial, and a judge will decide the case.
The twins had brushes with low-level fame and with the law in the years before the fatal accident. As reported by The Cut, they were born Alison and Ann Dadow in Utica, New York; changing their names after a scandal involving their once-successful yoga studio in Florida.
From 2008 until 2014, the sisters owned the popular Twin Power Yoga studio with two locations in Palm Beach County. According to a report in the Palm Beach Post, while the striking, outgoing twins were well-liked by many in the yoga community there, some of the staff at their studios saw them as materialistic and domineering.
“They were wolves in sheep clothing. They used yoga as a mask. They wanted nothing more than to be rich and famous,’’ a former employee who wished to remain anonymous told the newspaper.
“They were very authoritative and not empowering.”
The twins lost what goodwill they had in the community after abruptly shuttering their studio in 2014, leaving wages unpaid and failing to honor long-term memberships. Though the yoga business had for a time been very successful, the twins were reportedly courted for a possible reality series, and would-be producers convinced them to invest in a bigger studio for the show. When the series didn’t pan out, the Duval twins found themselves underwater.
It was then that they briefly moved to Utah and changed their names, reportedly because they wanted to pursue a book deal. The Duval twins got back into the yoga business but also filed for bankruptcy, and had numerous alcohol-related run-ins with the law.
Multiple sources close to the twins said in interviews that Alexandria and Anastasia shared a drinking problem, and that their dispositions changed dramatically when alcohol was involved — which was often.
Keith Weiss, Anastasia’s former boyfriend, told the Palm Beach Post that he nearly crashed his car in 2001 when the twins threw a tantrum while he was behind the wheel — because he refused their pleas to stop for another glass of wine.
And Federico Bailey, Anastasia’s boyfriend at the time of her death, told the Maui News that the twins had been drinking on the day of the accident — after Alexandria had joined Frederico and Anastasia on what was originally intended to be a romantic weekend camping getaway for the two of them.
“When they drink, their personalities change,” Bailey told the Maui News.
By 2015, Alexandria and Anastasia had moved on from Utah to Maui, initially with plans to open a yoga studio, according to the Palm Beach Post. But according to a more recent article in the Maui News, the sisters abandoned those plans, instead getting jobs at a tour company. According to Bailey, they also talked about launching their own T-shirt and hat line.
On the day of the crash, Bailey told the newspaper that the sisters had been fighting. At one point they drove away from the campground and were gone for four hours. When the twins returned, Anastasia told her boyfriend that she and Alexandria “had come to a truce.”
Bailey was reportedly upset when he saw that the twins had purchased alcohol when they were away from the campground, and was fed up with the twins’ drama. He reportedly walked off alone to calm down, and just a few minutes later the sisters took off again. Anastasia never returned.
Before the Ford Explorer drove off a cliff, multiple witnesses reported seeing the twins fighting in the vehicle; and Anastasia was reportedly pulling her sister’s hair.
“I could see a pair of arms from elbows to hands yanking the head of the driver. The driver’s head was being pulled to the side,” witness Lawrence Lau said in court on Tuesday, according to local CBS affiliate KGMB.
ABC News reports that prosecutors have argued that Alexandria intentionally drove the car over a cliff; citing evidence they claim shows that she did not apply the brakes but rather accelerated while driving on the narrow winding road, allegedly taking a sharp turn towards a 200-foot drop.
Alexandria’s defense attorney’s have argued in court that Anastasia’s death was a tragic accident, and have asked the court to toss the second-degree murder charges for a second time.
Alexandria Duval is not expected to testify at her trial, which is expected to continue on Wednesday.
[Feature image: Associated Press/Alexandria Duval]