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Smyth County manslaughter trial begins

By Lyndsey Price, lprice@wcyb.com
Published On: Nov 13 2013 04:46:44 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 13 2013 11:17:00 AM CST

The trial started Wednesday for a Smyth County man who is facing three counts of involuntary manslaughter after police say he crashed a car and killed the three people riding with him.

SMYTH COUNTY, Va. -

The trial started Wednesday for a Smyth County man who is facing three counts of involuntary manslaughter after police say he crashed a car and killed the three people riding with him.

The Smyth County Courtroom was full with emotion as the jury heard opening arguments for the trial of 21-year-old Dakota "Cody" Miller. "It's come time to get it over with. It's been drug out over a year now and it's very devastating," says Sandra Church, who is the mother of victim Richard Schmidt.

"We need a little piece of closure so it's a little bit of relief that it's gotten started," adds Tammy Altice, mother of victim Chelsea Leah-Jordan Altice.

Miller is facing three counts of involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors say he was driving under the influence when he crashed the car he was driving on Laurel Springs Road on July 9, 2012.

The Virginia State Police say Miller was driving the car, entered a curve too fast, and ran off the road, hitting a tree.

"Our whole life has been turned upside down," Tammy Altice said. "We've had to learn a new normal, our daughter's future is gone. There are no words really to describe what's happened, I mean, she's just gone."

The other two victims were 21-year-old Sarah Clark of Lebanon, Virginia and 23-year-old Richard Schmidt of Marion, Virginia. "I want to be in the bed all the time to try to escape life because my baby is gone at 23 years old," adds Church.

The defense claims Miller didn't set out to hurt anyone and he didn't force anyone to ride with him.

Miller has been held at the Southwest Regional Jail in Abingdon since the accident without bond.

Testimony from the prosecution continues Thursday. The trial is expected to last through Friday.