The former owner of two Palm Beach County yoga studios accused of driving off a cliff in Hawaii and killing her twin sister is trying to get the murder charge against her dropped.
A defense attorney representing Alison Dadow filed a motion last week seeking to dismiss the charge, arguing prosecutors misled the grand jury that indicted her, according to The Associated Press. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Dadow — also known as Alexandria Duval — is accused of driving a Ford Explorer off a cliff in May 2016 on Maui’s Hana Highway with her sister, Ann — then going by AnastasiaDuval — in the passenger seat. Witnesses said Dadow and her identical twin were fighting as they drove along the winding road, screaming and pulling each other’s hair, when the SUV toppled down a cliff.
The sisters ran Twin Power Yoga studios in West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens from 2011 until 2014 before abruptly moving from Palm Beach County amid debts and accusations that they didn’t pay their employees. They traveled through other resort towns before ending up in Hawaii in late 2015, living in a five-bedroom, two-story, 3,800-square-foot home on the island’s north-central coast.
Alison Dadow, was originally charged with second-degree murder a few days after the crash, but a judge dismissed the charge saying there wasn’t enough evidence to support it. She was arrested in Nov. 2016 near Albany, New York after a grand jury indicted her.
Birney Bervar, Alison Dadow’s defense attorney, says a witness to the crash did not testify before the grand jury, instead a detective took the stand to describe what that person saw. The witness had told police he saw the passenger pulling the driver’s hair with both hands and heard yelling, The Associated Press said.
The detective testified incorrectly that the witness said the passenger was no longer pulling the driver’s hair when they went over the edge, the defense said. The witness, who the defense interviewed, said the fighting and hair-pulling continued until he lost sight of the SUV as it drove past him and off the cliff, according to a motion filed by Bervar to dismiss the murder charge.
Autopsy results showed that “long, loose blond hairs” were found on both of Ann Dadow’s hands, the motion said.
“This case is clearly a tragic accident,” Bervar said. “My client is devastated by the loss of her sister. It’s not intentional murder by any means.”
Bervar also said an officer provided inaccurate testimony that data from the SUV showed Alison Dadow didn’t brake before the crash.
An accident reconstruction expert hired by the defense said data from the air-bag control module showed she “most probably did not push and hold the throttle to the floor and make a hard left towards the wall as stated in the grand jury testimony,” according to the motion. “It is probable that having the drivers’ head pulled firmly to the right from the pulling of her hair could have caused some erratic driving.”
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Emlyn Higa said in response to the motion that the hair-pulling had no effect on Alison Dadow’s ability to drive the SUV safely and didn’t contribute to going over the cliff. The conflict between the experts for the prosecution and defense is what a jury trial is meant to resolve, Higa said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report