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Driver involved in Edgewater hit-and-run death is 'getting away' with it, relatives say

Anne Arundel police investigate an area off of Central Avenue in Edgewater around the hit-and-run that killed David Allen Decheubel Jr.
Anne Arundel police investigate an area off of Central Avenue in Edgewater around the hit-and-run that killed David Allen Decheubel Jr. (Anne Arundel County Police Department)

A woman who was convicted of a traffic violation in the 2016 hit-and-run death of a 19-year-old man in Edgewater could soon be able to erase the incident from her record.

Caroline Grace Hurley, 31, was convicted in February of failing to immediately stop a vehicle at the scene of an accident involving a death. An Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge agreed on Thursday to reduce the disposition to probation before judgment.

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If Hurley doesn’t violate her probation, she will be able to expunge the conviction from her record.

It’s the latest development in the case that has enraged the family of victim David Allen Decheubel Jr. Family members have accused investigators and prosecutors of botching the case.

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“He was found by a garbage man and he was treated like garbage by the state’s attorney,” said Decheubel’s mother, Lisa A. Saunders. “Now, the court system just gave her two thumbs up to do it again.”

“I’m outraged,” said Ariel Decheubel, the victim’s sister. “Where is the justice?”

“In my opinion, she’s getting away with murder,” said Mabel Saunders, his grandmother.

The family was upset in February, when prosecutors agreed to a deal in which Hurley would plead to a single traffic violation, against the family’s wishes.

Caroline Hurley, charged in the manslaughter death of David Decheubel in Edgewater in 2016, sentenced to 6 months house arrest and 1 year probation.

“This was a very difficult case from the outset,” Anne Arundel State’s Attorney Wes Adams said in a statement. “Although [the family] disagreed with our decision to resolve the case through a plea, my office has made every effort to include the family throughout the process. I understand the impact that a death has on a family, and I empathize with them for their loss."

Adams said his office opposed the court’s recent decision to downgrade the disposition of the case.

Hurley could not be reached for comment. Her lawyer said she has maintained her innocence in Decheubel’s death.

Decheubel was walking home on Central Avenue in Edgewater late on March 31 or early April 1, 2016, when he was struck by a car. His body was found by a morning garbage truck crew.

According to a statement of facts to which Hurley agreed in the plea deal, Hurley was out with friends having drinks before she drove away in her 2010 Hyundai Elantra.

Her lawyer, John Robinson III, said Hurley did not drink that night.

Hurley’s car was towed to an Edgewater body shop then called Classic Collision Center the next morning. Her husband, Robert Hurley Jr., reported that his wife had hit a deer, police said.

The then-owner of the car repair shop, Lisa McAdams, had heard of the hit-and-run and became suspicious when the vehicle arrived, police said. Workers at the body shop did not believe damage to the car was the result of a deer accident, police said.

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Manager Frank Williams told The Baltimore Sun that there was a black mark across the hood that looked like it could have been from a shoe.

“Never seen that on a deer hit,” he said. “And we’ve seen hundreds of them.”

The police officer who initially inspected the car wrote that the damage was consistent with a deer collision, with “short brown hairs embedded in the fractured glass of the windshield.”

A police collision analyst later found that the damage was “consistent with a pedestrian strike,” authorities said.

Police did not interview Hurley until a week after the hit-and-run, too late to perform a Breathalyzer test. Police said she told investigators that she hit a large deer on Central Avenue on the way home from the store and saw the deer run back into the woods.

DNA testing eventually confirmed that the hair found on her car belonged to a Caucasian man.

Caroline Grace Hurley will plead guilty to traffic charges in the hit-and-run death of David Allen Decheubel Jr. The victim's mother said she will not be sent to prison.

Robinson, her lawyer, said the hair could have belonged to another male. He said no forensic or DNA evidence linked the car to the victim.

Robinson said the damage to the car was consistent with a deer strike. He said Hurley has maintained her innocence throughout the case, saying she believed she had hit a deer at the time of the crash.

In a report nearly a year after the collision, investigators concluded that all the forensic evidence confirmed that Hurley’s car “was the vehicle involved in the collision.”

In February, prosecutors made a plea deal with Hurley in which six of seven traffic charges were dropped. She pleaded not guilty to failing to immediately stop a vehicle at the scene of an accident involving a death, but agreed to a statement of facts.

She was convicted and sentenced to one year in prison, with all but six months suspended, and the sentence to be served under home detention.

For Lisa Saunders, the hardest part is imagining her son lying on the side of the road for hours. She said it’s impossible to know whether he could have been saved if someone called 911.

“It’s really, really hard to think of that,” she said.

Ducheubel was living with his family in Prince George's County, where he attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School but dropped out before graduation. He worked at Taco Bell and earned a welding certificate through a Job Corps program. He had begun volunteering with an area fire department, according to his mother.

His mother said he wanted to become an underwater welder and a firefighter.

“He was loving and kind,” Saunders said. “He was a good kid.”

Capital Gazette reporter Phil Davis contributed to this report.

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