By Joe Johnson
Three people were formally charged recently in connection with the hit-and-run death of a University of Georgia student seven months ago.
The student, 21-year-old Knox Whiten of Toccoa, was walking in a travel lane of the Athens perimeter, with his back against traffic in the early morning hours of March 21, when he was fatally struck from behind by a Chevrolet Cruze driven by 28-year-old Virkerria Lacole Steward, who fled the scene, according to Athens-Clarke County police.
After a weeklong investigation, the police Traffic Unit identified Steward as the driver and charged her with first-degree homicide by vehicle, hit and run, and driving on a suspended license.
A week later Stewart and her mother, 58-year-old Sophia Harris Steward were each charged with false report of a crime, for reporting that the Chevrolet Cruz that struck Whiten had been stolen had actually been torched in Jackson County, in what police said was an attempt to destroy evidence.
Assisting in the cover-up was Sophia Steward’s husband, 48-year-old Roderick Dejuan Marble, according to police.
Last week, on Oct. 21, the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office filed three separate accusations in Superior Court charging Virkerria Steward with first-degree homicide by vehicle, hit and run, driving while license expired, false report of a crime; Sophia Steward with false report of a crime and tampering with evidence; and Marble with tampering with evidence.
All three defendants are free on bonds and are scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 15.
Arson charges against Marble and his wife are pending in Jackson County.