September 27, 1997 in Nation/World

Couple Face Charges In Hit And Run Police Say Man Tried To Cover Up Wife’s Accident

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Prosecutors charged a Spokane mother of four with felony hit-and-run Friday, claiming she’s responsi ble for a collision that killed a man riding his bike to work.

Martha Duxbury, 32, was released on personal recognizance shortly after she surrendered at the Spokane County Jail, police said.

Investigators believe Duxbury hit Harold Grammer as he pedaled up the Sunset Hill about 5:25 a.m. on Sept. 16, then drove away in her maroon 1989 Ford Taurus as Grammer lay dying on the pavement.

She wasn’t charged with vehicular assault or vehicular homicide because she likely didn’t see Grammer, who wasn’t wearing reflective clothing, police said. It was dark at the time of the accident.

Her husband, 36-year-old Thomas Duxbury, also was arrested Friday. He was charged with aiding and abetting, also a felony, and was ordered held in jail in lieu of $5,000 bond.

Police said he failed to report the crime in a timely fashion and destroyed evidence by removing the car’s shattered windshield and hiding it in a cardboard box at his north Spokane home.

He also pounded out dents in the car’s body, police officers said in court documents.

Traffic investigators believe Grammer, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, slammed into the windshield and was thrown 100 feet after his bike was hit from behind near Sunset Boulevard and F Street.

The 32-year-old newlywed, who worked at a west Spokane foundry, died of head injuries the day after the collision.

Martha Duxbury told police she spent the night before the accident at her sister’s house on East Longfellow. Sometime about 4 a.m., she left her sister’s house, saying she was going home.

According to court documents, she arrived at her own house in the 1600 block of East Dalke nearly two hours later and told her husband, “I think I hit someone on a bike.”

Martha Duxbury said she doesn’t remember details of the collision and that she sometimes has “blackouts” and is taking “anxiety medication,” according to court documents.

Family members told investigators the woman sometimes goes for drives to calm herself down. Thomas Duxbury said his wife may have driven up Sunset Boulevard that morning to “see the city lights.”

According to an affidavit written by a traffic investigator, Thomas Duxbury told police he followed the accident and hunt for suspects in TV and newspaper reports and suspected his wife might be involved. He said he didn’t call police immediately because he was scared.

Duxbury said he removed the smashed windshield from the car several days later and tried to repair other damage.

Six days after the collision, the Duxburys went to the Northeast Community Center and talked to counselor Susan Mitchell, then called police, the affidavit states.

Police obtained a warrant and searched the couple’s home Friday afternoon, said Dick Cottam, police spokesman. They seized about a dozen items of clothing belonging to Martha Duxbury, finding glass fragments on some items, Cottam said. They also confiscated items her husband is suspected of using to conceal damage to the car. Those items were purchased shortly after the accident, according to a sales receipt taken in the raid, Cottam said.

Russell Van Camp, a Spokane attorney hired by the Duxburys, said they feel terrible about the wreck. Neither has a criminal record in Spokane County, according to court records.

“She went into shock is what it was,” Van Camp said.

Neighbors said the couple has lived in the rented house on Dalke for nearly seven years. She works as a hairdresser; he as a night janitor, they said. The couple’s children range in age from 4 to 11.

Police are still building their case against the Duxburys. They ask that anyone who saw the accident or the couple’s car from 5-6 a.m. on Sept. 16 to call Crime Check, (509) 456-2233.

“They aren’t bad people,” said Betty Pederson, who lives next door to the couple. “If they had turned themselves in right away, I could have felt some sympathy for them.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story:

CARE FUND

A care fund has been established for Crystal Grammer, whose husband Harold, was killed in a hit-and-run collision last week. Contributions can be made at any U.S. Bank in Eastern Washington.

This sidebar appeared with the story: CARE FUND A care fund has been established for Crystal Grammer, whose husband Harold, was killed in a hit-and-run collision last week. Contributions can be made at any U.S. Bank in Eastern Washington.


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