Witness describes feisty relationship between Duval twins
Traffic expert says defendant did not hit accelerator by mistake
WAILUKU – When he arrived at the scene of a fatal crash near Hana, a police traffic investigator testified, he saw tire marks that indicated they were left by a vehicle that was fishtailing and accelerating in a sharp left turn off the roadway before going over a cliff.
“When I saw the tire marks, I immediately saw these were not made via braking,” police Sgt. Lawrence Becraft said. “These marks were from a tire that was rolling and sideslipping.”
Becraft testified Tuesday in the 2nd Circuit Court trial of Alexandria Duval, 39, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the crash that killed her twin sister, Anastasia Duval.
Before the crash was reported at about 4:40 p.m. May 29, 2016, at Milepost 47.5 on Hana Highway, witnesses reported seeing two women arguing and fighting in the white 2016 Ford Explorer.
Witnesses said the passenger was pulling the hair of the driver, identified as Alexandria Duval.
Becraft, who has investigated more than 1,000 vehicle crashes, at the time was working as a traffic investigator in the police Vehicle Homicide Unit.
When he arrived at the crash scene at about 7:30 that night, “I immediately saw tire marks on the roadway that led toward a stone wall and that led off a cliff,” Becraft said.
He said he didn’t find any other marks on the road.
Becraft said his observations at the crash scene were supported by data he downloaded from the vehicle’s restraint control module. He said the device records data 5 seconds before a “wake up” leading to airbag deployment.
“It does corroborate that this vehicle was in a hard left turn and it was accelerating,” Becraft said.
He said the data showed the vehicle was traveling 48.3 mph at the “wake-up” time, with the speed having increased from 40 mph. One and a half seconds before that, the data showed no braking and acceleration “all the way to the floor,” Becraft said.
He said data also showed the steering wheel had been turned to the left 288 degrees out of a full 360 degrees.
Defense attorney Birney Bervar asked whether bumping into a curb while driving could cause the steering wheel to turn left or right.
Becraft said yes, but “this was not a curb,” he said.
“To my inspection of the furrows that were left in the dirt shoulder, there’s nothing there that would cause the wheels to jerk suddenly,” Becraft said. “There’s a gradual and consistent turning of the wheel. It shows a constant rate of turning. If there’s something that was struck like a curb or rock, you would see a greater rate of turning.”
Becraft said there was a grassy shoulder in a gap between two rock walls at the crash scene, with the passenger side of the SUV hitting the end of one rock wall. The front driver’s side tire was the first to go off the road onto the grassy shoulder, followed by the front passenger side tire, with the front passenger side of the vehicle hitting the rock wall, Becraft said.
The vehicle fell 115 feet onto rocks below, police said.
All airbags in the SUV were deployed, Becraft said.
Deputy Prosecutor Emlyn Higa asked whether the crash was a case of someone mistaking the accelerator for the brake, as the defense suggested in opening statements.
“This is not that case,” Becraft said. “There was no mistake.
“You wouldn’t press the accelerator and then go to the left off the cliff. This shows there was massive left-turn input on the vehicle and the acceleration was depressed 100 percent.”
Before Becraft’s testimony, Federico Bailey recounted going with the twins on a camping trip to Kipahulu on the Memorial Day weekend of the crash.
Bailey said he met Anastasia Duval in April 2016 at Baldwin Beach Park in Paia, and she invited him to stay with her, Alexandria Duval and her boyfriend, Lonnie Dickerson, at the home in Haiku where they were living.
“We became very close,” Bailey said of Anastasia Duval. “We had an instant bond the day we met. It was a very unusual connection. I never really experienced anything like that before. It seemed like we knew each other.”
He said they made plans to buy land on the Big Island and had ideas for businesses, including farming.
Yet his relationship with Alexandria Duval was “hit and miss,” Bailey said.
“There were times we got along pretty well, and there were other times we didn’t seem to get along,” he said.
Bailey said the sisters had arguments “quite often.”
They also had physical fights, he said.
“It was quite often, every two or three days,” Bailey said. “They fought like men. They punched each other. They fought like soldiers. It seemed like they had some martial arts training. They know how to fight, and they used their techniques on each other.”
He said the sisters liked to drink wine.
“At first, it didn’t seem like a big problem,” he said. “But after the first week of knowing them, I began to notice that the influence of the wine was an issue, and it seemed to fuel their fights.”
That Memorial Day weekend, Bailey said, he and Anastasia planned to go camping alone.
“She wanted me to help her keep a lid on the camping trip,” he said. “She was adamant about Alexandria not knowing we were going camping.”
But after Alexandria found out, she ended up going with them in Dickerson’s SUV.
He said Anastasia wasn’t happy and was “really bitchy toward Alexandria” when they started the trip Saturday.
“Then when the wine came in, things kind of settled down,” Bailey said. “Later that night, we went to buy some more wine. The two of them weren’t fighting, like physically fighting, but they weren’t really friendly toward each other either.”
Bailey said he and Anastasia had fallen asleep in the SUV when Alexandria returned from another campsite at 4 or 5 in the morning May 29, 2016, and knocked on the SUV window. He said he didn’t respond, and Alexandria returned an hour or two later, waking up both her sister and Bailey.
He said Alexandria wanted him to get out of the car, but he wouldn’t.
Anastasia began asking her sister why she had come with them on the trip, Bailey said. Alexandria wouldn’t answer, he said, before they started fighting.
“They were punching each other and slapping each other and hitting each other in the front seat,” he said.
He said the physical fighting lasted “five minutes, maybe.”
Anastasia also was upset with him because he hadn’t put up a canopy on the tent and it had rained, Bailey said.
“She started throwing them on me, all the wet clothes,” he said. “She started emptying drinks on my head.”
Alexandria said she was driving them home and drove toward Kaupo before she pulled to the side of the road, Bailey said, and he drove them back to the campsite to get their gear.
As he was packing up the gear, Alexandria said she was going to drive with Anastasia to the bathroom up the hill, Bailey said. When they didn’t return in 10 or 15 minutes, he went to look for them and couldn’t find them, he said.
The sisters returned about four hours later at 12:30 or 1 p.m., Bailey said.
He said he was upset, and after speaking to the sisters, went to the bathroom. When he returned to the campsite, the sisters were gone again, he said.
“That was the last time I saw her,” he said.
The next morning, Bailey said, he began walking toward Haiku and got a ride to Hana, where he learned about the crash. He hitchhiked back to Haiku, arriving at the house at about 3 p.m. May 30, 2016, about a half-hour before Dickerson and Alexandria arrived from Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Bailey said Alexandria “didn’t have any answers” when he asked about the crash. When Dickerson left to get Alexandria’s medication, she was looking for a bottle of champagne they had bought, Bailey said.
He said Alexandria wanted him to help her wash her hair.
“She was flirting with me, and she was cuddling on me,” he said. “She came and sat down by me really close, and she laid her head on my shoulder.”
He said Alexandria put on a dress that Anastasia had worn a few nights earlier.
Under cross-examination by Bervar, Bailey said he was a minister who lived “by faith” and had slept on the beach Monday night.
He said he had lived in Hawaii for three years, moving from Houston. He met Anastasia 35 days before the crash, Bailey said.
He said he had been driving Alexandria’s Porsche, and Bervar asked whether Bailey had continued driving the vehicle until he was arrested for its theft in June.
Bervar also questioned Bailey about whether he had a criminal record in Texas.
“That may or may not be so,” Bailey said. “There was a bounced check that I wrote and that was considered theft in Texas.”
Bailey said he had spoken to two media outlets, including ABC News, which has been live-streaming trial proceedings.
He said Crime Watch Daily contacted him by email. “I told them I would not interview until after the trial,” he said.
Duval has waived her right to a jury trial. Judge Peter Cahill is presiding over the trial, which was scheduled to resume today.