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Posted October 16, 2012 | comments 2 Comments

Charge dropped, probe deepens into traffic death

By Joe Beck

The investigation into the death of teacher Amber N. Lucchiani in a July 11 traffic accident took a new direction Tuesday with a decision by Winchester Commonwealth's Attorney Alexander Iden to drop a reckless driving charge against Leslie Wylie, the other driver in the crash.

But Iden said the case is hardly over. The dropping of the charge was accompanied by an announcement that he would seek a special grand jury to launch a deeper investigation into the accident.

Iden said a grand jury will have the authority to subpoena witnesses, something that cannot be done in the course of a normal law enforcement investigation. It also can force the production of records, documents and similar pieces of evidence.

The current investigation "has left the community with more questions than answers," Iden said in a press release.

In a telephone interview, Iden declined to identify what questions he was referring to, but the press release mentioned that Wylie, 30, of Knoxville, Tenn. received a Botox treatment at a physician's office on Valley Avenue just before the accident.

Iden refused to comment when asked whether the Botox injection would be a topic for the grand jury, but then added: "The hour before Amber Lucchiani's death is incredibly relevant."

Lucchiani, 38, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Robert E. Aylor Middle School in Stephens City, died when a 2004 Ford pickup truck driven by Wylie hit Lucchiani's 2008 minivan in the driver's front seat area. Authorities say Wylie's eastbound truck crossed the median strip on Jubal Early Drive and hit the minivan. Police reported that witnesses had seen the pickup truck stop and then accelerate at a high speed as it crossed the median strip.

The special grand jury is the first he has ever tried to call, Iden said. It may issue a report at the request of the prosecution or indictments or decide the evidence is lacking to charge anyone with a crime.

Iden said the decision to drop the reckless driving charge against Wylie in Winchester General District Court does not mean he lacked enough evidence for a conviction.

"Not at all," he said. "The investigation is not complete. The investigation is not complete until we get a grand jury investigating it."

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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