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Athens woman charged for hit-and-run death of UGA student

Virkerria Steward

By Joe Johnson

An Athens woman has been charged with the hit-and-run death of a University of Georgia student about a week ago.

According to police, 21-year-old Knox Whiten was walking in a travel lane of the Athens Perimeter’s outer loop near North Chase Street when he was struck from behind by a vehicle early the morning of March 21. Whiten was killed and the driver fled the scene.

On Wednesday, police announced that 28-year-old Virkerria Steward had been identified as the driver and is charged in warrants with first-degree homicide by vehicle, hit and run resulting in serious injury or death, false report of a crime, and driving with a suspended license.

According to ACCPD’s public information officer Lt. Shaun Barnett, Steward reported that the Chevrolet Cruze that struck Whiten was stolen later in the day of the fatal collision.

“Other involved parties could likely face charges related to this incident as well,” he said.

Steward has been in custody since March 21, when she was held at the Clarke County Jail for a warrant out of Clayton County, to where she was subsequently transported.

Police initially said they had little or no evidence to go by as no debris that might identify the vehicle that killed Whiten could be located during two days of searching.

But then Steward’s car was found to have been torched in Jackson County.

“That aspect is still under investigation,” Barnett said. “We are looking into whether she had any assistance.”

Hit and Run crashes resulting in death are among the most challenging cases to solve, and ACCPD’s Traffic Unit has significant experience with such investigations.

“Members of the Traffic Unit undergo extensive specialized training regarding accident reconstruction, investigations of vehicular homicides, and hit and run crashes. This investigation’s successful outcome reflects the Traffic Unit’s specialization in investigating these types of incidents,” police said in a prepared statement.

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