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Motion to move Boyce case denied

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Steven Andrew Boyce

Judge: Defense in quadruple-fatal DUI case can renew request at a later date

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Steven Boyce's quadruple vehicular homicide case must remain in Frederick County for now, a judge ruled Friday.

Boyce, 21, of 221 Hawk Trail, Shawneeland, stands charged with four counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter in the June 26 deaths of Amanda and Mark Roe and their children, Caleb and Tyler. Boyce also is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.33 percent and underage possession related to the June 26 incident.

The defendant appeared with his attorneys in Frederick County Circuit Court for a hearing on their motions, one of which sought to move the case proceedings, including the trial, outside the locality.

Boyce's attorney, David Hensley, argued that extensive media coverage followed by public "outrage" over the incident would hinder their client's chances of receiving a fair trial.

"If public sentiment is that [Boyce] rot in hell or rot in jail or get a bullet in the head, I submit he won't be able to get a fair trial in Frederick County," Hensley argued.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Robbins refuted the claim, noting that media coverage, no matter how extensive and accurate, does not give cause to move a case out of the county.

Comments posted with stories also may not come from Frederick County residents.
"People will say things," Robbins said.

Retired Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. denied the motion to change venue but ordered that the defense retains the right to renew their request at a later date. As the judge explained in making his decision, potential jurors would be asked during the selection process whether media coverage they may have seen or read could cause them to not remain fair and impartial during the trial.

Authorities and court documents state Boyce drove a 1985 Chevrolet S-10 pickup which rear-ended a Jeep Cherokee stopped on U.S. 11 in Stephenson.

The collision caused the fuel tank in the rear of the Jeep to explode and the family died in the ensuing fire.

Defense attorney William A. "Beau" Bassler argued that statements by five of seven witnesses to the crash contradicts the findings of the investigation conducted by law enforcement and its report issued for the incident.

Of the five witnesses Bassler mentioned, three described the crash as a T-bone-type collision. More than one witness said the pickup driven by Boyce had the green light at the intersection and thus the right of way, Bassler said.

The defense sought financial assistance to hire a private investigator the attorneys say would interview the witnesses and take the information. Bassler explained the attorneys could not interview the witnesses because doing so breaks legal ethics.

Robbins argued against Bassler's requests.

"The defense does not have a right to an investigator even in the case of capital murder," Robbins said.

Bassler also sought a product liability expert who would investigate the causal relationship between the crash and design flaws in the Jeep.

Whisenant denied defense motions for funds out of which the attorneys would hire at their discretion both a private investigator and a product liability expert. The judge granted a defense request to hire a vehicle-crash reconstruction expert but Whisenant limited the amount of public funds to $2,000.

"We believe that the Cherokee has a definite flaw in its design," Bassler said.

Robbins argued the defendant "doesn't get to pick his own expert" and those suggested by the commonwealth could suffice.

During the debate over the motion for private investigator, Whisenant thwarted Bassler's attempts to respond to Robbins' arguments against the request.

"I have other cases," Whisenant said. "We're not going to drag this out all morning."

The judge gave Bassler a few seconds to read a response filed late Thursday by the commonwealth to the motion for experts which the defense had not seen until that morning.

The judge scheduled a hearing for April 23 to hear arguments on a defense motion to suppress statements made by Boyce to law enforcement agents.

The defense indicates in its motion that Boyce made statements to law enforcement officers without the benefit of legal counsel.


I agree Steven Boyce can never get a fair trial in this area. If the jeep had not caught fire and the victims were not killed he may have lost his lisence for 6 months. But it did catch fire , 2 of the victims were children.This kind of tragedy is hard for us to accept. So we hate, and we want revenge on whoever or whatever caused our loss and pain. But the truth is Steven is a victim also. I had a dear friend killed by a drunk driver. I also hated and wished death for that person for a long time. That person was not a child as Steven is. Yes , Steven is of age but that does not make him an adult. If he were an adult then he would be legally allowed to drink.The reason the legal age is 21 is because kids cant handle alcohol responsibly. He made a mistake as children do. I am not saying he should not be punished . I am sure he is punishing himself also.Things happen for a reason. But I know he did not set out that day to kill 4 innocent people. God left him here for a purpose. The adult that killed my frind served 16 months. That person was not a child. I dont think it is Steven's fault the Jeep caught fire.

Steven was the victim of parents who probably let him run ramshackle over them. No discipline, no support. This idiot ADULT CHOSE to drink, chose to drive, and in turn killed FOUR INNOCENT PEOPLE. You can think it wasn't Steven's fault that the jeep caught on fire, but it WAS. He impacted it so hard it caught fire, how retarded do you have to be to not see that. I think you are a close relative of him, and probably a scum bag like him too.

There are details of the accident not known to the public, they may come out in court. I am not a relative, nor am I retarded or a scum bag. I am allowed to express my opinion, just as you are. Lots of cars are impacted hard and they do not catch fire. Do some research.

You may be right that Steven did not cause that vehicle to catch fire and yes, those particular jeeps are known to have issues with the gas tank and rear end accidents. However, had he not run into the back of it, it would not have caught fire. Had he not been drinking, he may not have run into the back of the vehicle. It still all comes back to him being intoxicated..and HIGHLY intoxicated at that. Most people don't set out to do wrong, but it does not alleviate the responsibility of their actions, intended or not. I too agree that he is the product of a bad up bringing and I also agree that age alone does not make someone an adult in how they think or act. Some people NEVER act like an adult but I am a firm believer that even if you weren't raised in a good environment, you still know the difference between right and wrong. It was his choice to get in that vehicle and drive drunk, not his parents. If we allow everyone who wasn't raised in a good environment to not take full responsibility for their actions, this would be a very sad and horrible world.

Yes this was Steven's fault but no matter how you look at it he can't get a fair trial in Frederick County. His conviction will be appealed for this reason alone. Both families need closure. Why extend the heartache when the trial can be moved now and save alot of problems in the long run.

As I read your comments I must admit, I'm perplexed on this issue. I think calling his family "scumbags" is way off base. I'm sure there isn't anyone among us who didn't sneak an alcoholic beverage when our parents weren't looking and, truth be told, we have probably all driven under the influence and therefore only by the grace of God did we come out unscathed. Yes it's his fault, no doubt at a .33 BAC and he should probably do some hard time for a while. However, doing "hard time" can also do much more harm than good, so I'm unsure of a proper punishment. Fact his, 4 lives are gone and taking a 5th life would serve no other purpose than to make some folks feel better. At the very least he should be forced to sit down with people who have lost loved ones and listen to them, as well as talking to other young people about the dangers. Its easy to pass judgement when it doesn't effect you though...just sad.

" God left him here for a purpose" I dont think so. I guess you think God took the family of 4 for a purpose too. I think a speeding drunk who hit a vehicle with fuel tank issues killed this family. Whatever makes you feel better. I reckon God is more partial to drunk drivers as well since they survive more often than the innocent victims. Logic tells me that they are more limber but you believe what you want.

Absurd. A god killed 4 people to leave Boyce here for some unknown purpose? Would that same god also be responsible for not doing some small thing to intervene and prevent those 4 deaths? If this god is powerful enough to magically place his image on a piece of toast or miraculously make stone statutes cry blood, why not create a nail in the road to cause a flat tire? Why would any benevolent and merciful god sacrifice 4 worthy lives to permit a 5th life to serve some mysterious and unknown purpose never revealed? Worse still, why would any person worship the murdering of 4 worthy lives so a 5th life could rot behind bars? What religious metaphysical lesson does that teach? Don't drink and drive... or it's a long wait between hearing burning bushes speak?

Does Boyce truly deserve a jury composed of 12 adult citizens exactly like what we now understand about someone named "Moderate"? The answer might be 'yes' if this were still the Dark Ages. Perhaps a few of us are still living there, reverently staring at the bushes, waiting for words of wisdom why murdering innocent people serves a purpose? Absurd.

TGfmmaA, do you agree it would better to believe this stuff? If we did,we would maybe be less intelligent, but most likely, happier.

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