PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The trial for a Portsmouth woman facing murder charges in fatal 2015 car accident began Monday.
During the opening of the trial, jurors watched dash-cam video showing a high-speed chase that ended with the death of two young girls.
Virginia State Police say 20-year-old Takiara Lewis-White was driving well over 100 mph when she ran off Interstate 264 at Greenwood Drive in
September of 2015.
The trooper’s dash cam video shows Lewis-White’s Honda Pilot approach the exit ramp, then a spare tire blew, causing her to crash into a tree.
In the video, you hear Lewis-White’s one-year-old son screaming and crying as the trooper attempts to revive eight-year-old Destiny and five-year-old Shawnta Wilson.
The sisters died at the scene, a point illustrated to the jury by the prosecutor, who showed photos of their bodies during her opening statement.
“Half of Destiny’s face is gone, she has a gaping hole in her head,” says Marie Walls, a deputy commonwealth’s attorney. “There’s no sign of life.”
Neither of the girls were properly restrained, according to investigators. Lewis-White’s son survived, and it was not clear from testimony Monday whether or not he was in a car seat at the time of the crash.
Lewis-White pleaded not guilty to eight total charges, including murder and child neglect. Her defense attorney argues the girls were like family to her, and that she would never intentionally hurt them or her son.
Police say Lewis-White was driving with a suspended license at the time.
Eight charges against Lewis-White were withdrawn in February because of a conflict of interest in the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. The Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney was appointed as a special prosecutor, and the case moved forward.
Special prosecutor Phil Ferguson said in February that this would not be double jeopardy, since Lewis-White’s case never went to trial.
The trial is expected to last through Wednesday, and will include testimony from the girls’ mother, who was a friend of Lewis-White’s.