Boeck pleads not guilty in Bard student deaths

Red Hook resident Carol Boeck, 63, pleaded not guilty in county court April 23 to 17 felony counts in the hit-and-run deaths of two Bard students on Route 9G Jan. 31.

At her arraignment in Dutchess County Court, accompanied by her attorney and two of her daughters, Boeck pleaded not guilty to seven counts of aggravated homicide, five counts of vehicular manslaughter, two counts each of manslaughter and drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident in the late-night incident, in which Bard students Sarah McCausland, 19 of Winnetka, Ill., and Evelina Brown, 20, of Seattle, were struck and killed while walking near the Tivoli intersection.

A grand jury delivered the strong indictment on April 11. At her April 23 hearing, Senior Assistant District Attorney Edward Whitesell then asked County Judge Stephen Greller to increase Boeck’s bail from $50,000 to $75,000 cash or $200,000 bond.

She is now out on bail, but following the judge’s orders, she cannot leave Dutchess County and must wear an electronic monitor.

Her attorney, Moshe Horn of New York City, told the Observer last week that both he and Boeck have received hate mail and that he is upset about the way she has been portrayed in the media.

“My client is a long-time resident of Red Hook; she has lived her whole life there, she has three kids, and she’s got grandchildren,” Horn said. “I know people are angry, but give us a little time to let the system work the way it’s supposed to work.”

Whitesell, however, told the Observer last week that the significance of case evidence gathered since Boeck’s arrest justified an increase in her bail.

“That evidence included one of the victim’s cell phones recovered from the bumper area of Ms. Boeck’s vehicle,” he said. He added, “It included laboratory analysis of items from the vehicle, which included the DNA of both the victims and some admissions by her that she had struck someone.”

According to Whitesell, witnesses at a local bar said Boeck had been there for eight hours on the day of the accident and at least 8 or 10 Bard students gave evidence that her behavior was erratic at the scene of the crash. He refused to name the bar.

Boeck was arrested at the Shell station at the intersection of Route 9G and Route 199 shortly after the incident, and Whitesell said she was subsequently found to have a blood alcohol level of .23, “three times over the legal limit.”

He added, “Given the time frame, she probably drove straight from the area just north of the intersection where the crash occurred, straight down Route 9G and stopped at the Shell station because she was stopped (by police) within a half hour of the time of the incident.”

Whitesell also said the victims’ DNA was found in various places on the vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler, and the cell phone was sitting between the bumper and the grille “so it was unable to fall off … even if she hit the brakes.”

Horn called the case “a tragedy by all accounts, everyone agrees on that. But at this point, we just want the legal system take its course.”

“I actually found out she was indicted from a reporter and I found out about her blood alcohol content from reading about it in the newspaper,” he added. “All I can tell you is my client was arrested at a gas station nine miles away. I’m not aware of any witnesses to the accident that could put my client there.”

Horn also said he wasn’t aware of any photos of his client driving the car, which he has yet to inspect.

“In my whole career, I’ve never seen an accident where a cell phone was stuck into a car, so I’m very curious to see how that happened,” Horn said. “I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’ve never seen it and I’ve done a lot of cases.”

Horn noted that he received no evidence from the prosecutor until the arraignment. And now that he has it, he added, he is working on preparing motions for the next hearing, which will be on June 11.

The two first-year Bard students had been walking with a group of students south on Route 9G at 11:50 pm the night they were struck by a southbound car near the Tivoli intersection. McCausland and Brown died at the scene; a third student was injured.

In announcing the indictments, Dutchess County District Attorney William Grady said in a news release that if Boeck is convicted on all counts, “she faces a maximum state prison sentence of 32 years.”

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