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Dump truck driver indicted in deaths

February 20, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A man whose dump truck crashed into several cars last summer, killing three people, was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on three counts of DUI causing death, two counts of DUI causing injury and several misdemeanor traffic offenses.

Brian William Strobridge, 38, of Thatcher Road in Martinsburg, could now face a jury trial.

Strobridge was charged in connection with the July 10, 2002, wreck along W.Va. 9 East, in which three people were killed: 51-year-old Marian Rao of Martinsburg; 17-year-old Terry Lee Walker Jr. of Leetown, W.Va.; and 20-year-old Carleton Wilcox of Charles Town, W.Va.

The wreck happened on the bridge over the Opequon Creek at around 4:45 p.m.

Initially, Strobridge was charged with three felony counts of DUI causing death after toxicology tests revealed cocaine in his bloodstream, police alleged.

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Sgt. Russell Shackelford, a criminal investigator with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, earlier testified that lab workers told him a toxicology test is declared positive for cocaine if the results show 150 to 300 nanograms of cocaine per milliliter of blood in one's system. Strobridge's test revealed 880 nanograms, Shackelford said.

Shackelford testified at Strobridge's preliminary hearing last September. After that hearing, a magistrate bound the case over to Circuit Court for possible grand jury indictment.

Strobridge told police the dump truck had a lot of "play" in the steering wheel, and he was trying to control it when it hit Rao's car, according to a statement Strobridge gave to police, which Shackelford read aloud in court. Strobridge told police that after hitting Rao's car, he lost all control of his 1988 Western dump truck, Shackelford said.

Rao was driving a Toyota Camry, and Wilcox and Walker were in a Jeep Wrangler, which was crushed and unrecognizable under the dump truck.

Strobridge has been free on $200,000 bail, with a condition that he not drive.

Grand jury proceedings are conducted behind closed doors. Jurors listen to a prosecutor and prosecution witnesses before deciding whether to indict a suspect. Neither the defendant nor his attorney are present, and an indictment is not considered a sign of guilt.

Strobridge was one of a dozen people indicted on unrelated charges Wednesday. Grand jury proceedings are to continue today.

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