NOT GUILTY: Duval Acquitted of Murder in Case Involving Death of Twin
A woman accused of 2nd degree murder in the May 29, 2016 death of her twin sister has been acquitted of the charge. Judge Peter Cahill handed down the ruling on Thursday in Maui District Court following closing arguments which were held earlier in the afternoon.
Alexandria Duval (also known as Allison Dadow) was involved in a deadly crash that claimed the life of her twin sister Anastasia Duval (also known as Ann Dadow) in the remote Puʻuiki area of East Maui, in which a vehicle plunged 100-200 feet off a cliff from the Hāna Highway.
In making his decision, Judge Cahill said “the theme that runs throughout” was that the two people within the vehicle were “out of control.” He said that given testimony, both individuals put people’s lives in jeopardy given their conduct that day.
The judge also noted that witnesses saw Anastasia Duval “yanking” the defendant’s hair.
Judge Cahill called the clumps of hair found within the deceased woman’s hands and on her chest “the most dramatic” piece of evidence in the case.
He said it is “reasonable to conclude” that the fight involving the hair pulling was the cause of the defendant losing control of the vehicle.
In making his ruling, Judge Cahill said:
“After reviewing all of the evidence in this case; after assessing the credibility of the witnesses; after looking at the data, taking into account everybody that has testified here; accepting some testimony; rejecting some other (testimony), I find that the state has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt the charge of murder in the second degree against the defendant.“The reckless charge is difficult because I agree with Mr. Higa (deputy prosecutor) because this was reckless conduct–reckless behavior. But this isn’t a civil case where people are seeking damages as a result of a wrongful death in a motor vehicle collision. This is a criminal prosecution in which the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant consciously disregarded what she was supposed to do and acted recklessly. But in this particular case, I find that the state failed to prove the causation issue beyond a reasonable doubt–the causation is what leads to the reckless.“I’m not getting to the intent, because I don’t find the cause of the car going off the cliff was exclusively–and I realize that’s not necessarily the standard–but the cause was ‘Ana’ Duval continuing to fight after it started to move. The defendant lost control of the vehicle–and maybe she did input the left turn, she may have done that, but that’s as a result of the evidence that shows her hair was being pulled. And whatever happened, happened. She wasn’t responsible for that.“The court will enter a judgement of acquittal as to the charged offense and as to the included offense, the defendant is discharged.”
Duval’s attorney Birney Bervar had described the case as a “tragic accident, not murder” and said there is ample reasonable doubt. He also said testimony showed that there was “violent passenger interference.”
State Deputy Prosecutor Emlyn Higa had suggested that the crash was intentional as evidenced by three factors: no breaking, a hard acceleration and a hard left turn prior to impact. Judge Cahill ruled that what had been described as a “sudden jerk to the left,” was more of a “soft turn” as evidenced by tire tracks of photos from the scene.
In addition to the acquittal, Judge Cahill also ordered that the $200,000 cash bail that was posted for Duval’s release, be returned to the family member who submitted the funds.
Closing arguments are set for Thursday afternoon with a ruling expected in the jury waived bench trial which is presided over by Judge Peter Cahill.
Alexandria Duval (also known as Allison Dadow) was involved in a deadly crash that claimed the life of her twin sister Anastasia Duval (also known as Ann Dadow) in the remote Puʻuiki area of East Maui, in which a vehicle plunged 100-200 feet off a cliff from the Hāna Highway. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In Wednesday’s proceedings, the defense called a single witness, Wayne Slagle, a man qualified by the court as an expert in engineering and accident reconstruction to offer his opinion. In his testimony, Slagle said there was “a lot of jerking” of the steering wheel that he said was consistent with trying to keep the vehicle on the road.
That is different from testimony presented by Maui police who pointed to data obtained in a crash recorder in maintaining there was a hard acceleration and hard left turn as the vehicle struck a berm and went off the cliff.
When Judge Cahill asked if she would like to testify or not testify, Duval responded on Wednesday saying, “I wish to not testify.”
Duval’s attorney Birney Bervar has described the case as a “tragic accident, not murder” and said there is ample reasonable doubt. He also said testimony would show that there was “violent passenger interference.”
State Deputy Prosecutor Emlyn Higa has suggested that the crash was intentional as evidenced by three factors: no breaking, a hard acceleration and a hard left turn prior to impact. In opening statements earlier this week, he said that the attention of an eyewitness was “drawn to the SUV by the roar of the engine,” and that the witness “watched the SUV accelerate down the road” and “suddenly jerk to the left.”
The case drew widespread media attention with many news organizations sifting up information on the twin’s past as Yoga instructors on the mainland. Evidence presented at a preliminary hearing, failed to support a finding of probable cause and Duval was released in June of 2016, but arrested five months later on the strength of a warrant issued in connection with a grand jury indictment.