A woman accused of deliberately driving off a Hawaii cliff and killing her identical twin sister was acquitted of murder Thursday.
The sisters, born Alison and Ann Dadow in the Utica, New York, area, operated popular yoga studios in Florida before they changed their names to Alexandria and Anastasia Duval. They moved to Hawaii in 2015 from Utah.
Authorities said Alexandria was behind the wheel of a Ford Explorer in 2016 when witnesses saw the sisters arguing on the narrow, winding Hana Highway on the island of Maui before their SUV plunged 200 feet over a cliff. A witness cleaning a family gravesite on the highway shoulder told police that he heard a woman screaming in the vehicle and that the passenger was pulling the driver's hair and the steering wheel.
Anastasia was in the passenger seat and was killed, and Alexandria was arrested. A judge later ordered Duval released after finding no probable cause for a murder charge. She traveled to upstate New York and was arrested months later in Albany after a grand jury indicted her.
Duval opted to have a judge instead of a jury decide the case. After a trial that started Monday, Second Circuit Judge Peter Cahill found Duval not guilty.
The crash was a tragic accident, Duval's defense attorney, Birney Bervar, said in his opening statement. During the trial, witnesses testified seeing the women arguing on the narrow highway. Duval did not testify.
"I'm disappointed," Maui County Prosecuting Attorney J.D. Kim said after the judge ruled in the defendant's favor. "The facts clearly show it was at least reckless behavior."
Duval left the courtroom without commenting, The Maui News reported.
"It's been an extremely emotional ordeal for her," Bervar told the newspaper. "You can't imagine losing your twin sister in that kind of catastrophic, tragic accident, then being charged with causing the death of your sister, which she didn't. She's extremely relieved."
Duval is going to take some time to figure out what to do next, Bervar told The Associated Press.
From: Associated Press