Man accused of killing family of four in crash last June
By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Attorneys for a man accused of killing a family in a June 26 vehicle crash lack grounds to move the case and trial out of Frederick County, according to prosecutors.
Steven Andrew Boyce, 21, of 221 Hawk Trail, Shawneeland, remains held at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center on four felony counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter, as well as a first offense of driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.33 percent, and underage possession, both misdemeanors, related to the crash.
Authorities claim Boyce, while intoxicated, drove a pickup which collided with the rear of a Jeep Cherokee occupied by Amanda and Mark Roe and their children, Tyler and Caleb. The collision on U.S. 11 in Stephenson caused the Jeep's fuel tank to explode. The family died in the resulting fire, according to Virginia state police.
A hearing on motions filed in the case is set for Friday in Frederick County Circuit Court.
Boyce's attorneys, David L. Hensley and William A. "Beau" Bassler, filed several motions in February, including one asking a judge to change the venue of the case to one outside Frederick County. The attorneys argue in the motion that extensive coverage of the crash and their client's case by the local media has tainted chances of the court finding a fair and impartial jury of his peers.
Likewise, the defense argues the public's response to the case as seen in comments posted online with stories on the matter show a hateful community atmosphere against Boyce.
But the commonwealth claims media coverage alone does not give the defense enough grounds to move the proceedings out of Frederick County.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Andrew M. Robbins on Monday filed a response to the defense motion for change of venue.
"The existence of media reports about the accused at the time of the crime does necessarily require a change of venue," Robbins states. "Factors to be considered with respect to pretrial publicity include whether the reporting is accurate, temperate, and non-inflammatory."
The prosecutor objects to the defense motion and argues Boyce "has failed to carry his burden to show widespread prejudice throughout Frederick County such that he cannot receive a fair trial.
"The reporting that he has attached to his motion is predominantly accurate, temperate, and is not inflammatory in any way," Robbins states. "His reference to reader comments that follow the various Internet articles about the crime cannot be attributed solely to the citizens of Frederick County, as they could have been written by anyone with Internet access world-wide. Similarly, they cannot be said to represent a statistical cross section of this community, which is home to more than 76,000 people."
Robbins argues the defense motion comes too early in the process.