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Grand jury indicts man in 2001 fatal crash

May 22, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The man who police allege was driving a Ford Explorer that crashed into a tree in September 2001, killing two of the SUV's occupants, was indicted Wednesday on two felony counts of driving under the influence causing death.

Joshua D. Barrett, 20, of Hedgesville, W.Va., now could face a trial in Circuit Court.

Barrett was 18 at the time of the wreck.

Killed in the single-car accident were Kyra Heleine, 19, of Falling Waters, W.Va., and Tristan Ashby, 21, of Martinsburg.

At the time, Heleine was free on $50,000 bail and scheduled to stand trial on a charge of felony murder. She was accused of injecting heroin several times into a man's arm in January, 2001. Later that night the man was found dead in the back seat of a car.

Last fall, police charged Barrett with two misdemeanor counts of negligent homicide stemming from the wreck. At that time, the possibility that alcohol played a part in the accident was not mentioned in court records.

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Blood tests show Barrett's blood alcohol content at the time of the accident was .114, Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said Wednesday evening.

The negligent homicide charges had been pending, but will be dismissed as a result of the indictment, Games-Neely said.

Barrett has been free on $5,000 bail.

Barrett's attorney, Robert C. Stone, has maintained that Barrett was not driving at the time of the wreck. A message left at his office Wednesday was not returned.

The day after the accident, West Virginia State Police Trooper R.A. Spearen II told reporters he was not sure who was driving the Explorer.

However, when Barrett was charged with negligent homicide, Spearen wrote in court paperwork that the position of Heleine and Ashby's bodies within the mangled SUV led him to believe Barrett had been behind the wheel.

Both Ashby and Heleine were partially thrown from the passenger side of the Ford, records show. When Spearen arrived, Barrett was out of the SUV, records show.

The three had been friends at Hedgesville High School, where Barrett and Ashby both were on the wrestling team. Heleine managed the school's wrestling team for two years, friends and family members previously said.

According to the indictment returned against Barrett, the Explorer was going more than 80 mph at the time of the crash on Cherry Run Road at around 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 4, 2001.

On June 2, a judge is to arraign Barrett on the DUI causing death charges, and a trial date set.

A conviction of a charge of DUI causing death carries a sentence of one to 15 years in prison.

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