PUUIKI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The woman who prosecutors accused of intentionally driving an SUV off a 200-foot Maui cliff, killing her twin sister, is no longer facing a murder charge.
In a rare move Wednesday, a judge ordered a second-degree murder charge against Alexandria Duval be dropped, and that the 37-year-old be released. She must still resolve a previous criminal case on Maui in 2015.
"This is a tragic accident. It was not a homicide. It was not a crime. This judge understood the evidence and we're just grateful that he got it," said defense attorney Todd Eddins.
Judge Blaine Kobayashi ruled that prosecutors did not present enough evidence to support the charge of intentional murder.
"It's very rare that the prosecution does not get a court order binding the person over to face the charges in these kind of cases because, as I said, the standard is very low," said legal expert William Harrison.
The crash is the latest twist in the bizarre and high-profile lives of the twins, an infamous pair of yoga studio owners from Florida.
Police said Duval, also known as Alison Dadow, was driving a Ford Explorer SUV when it plowed through a Hana Highway rock wall May 29 and plunged off a sea cliff.
Her twin sister, 37-year-old Anastasia Duval, who also used the name Ann Dadow, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Witnesses said the two women were fighting before the crash. They said they saw an argument inside the SUV and the passenger pulling the driver's hair. That's when the Ford Explorer suddenly accelerated, made a sharp turn into the wall and showed no signs of braking, according to court documents.
Police and prosecutors arrested Alexandria Duval on Friday, before a flight to the mainland. They said she missed a previous flight on Wednesday. Her attorney told the judge that she was trying to head to New York for her sister's funeral and was not attempting to flee.
Earlier this week, she pleaded not guilty to murder.
The sisters opened the successful Twin Power Yoga studios in the affluent Florida community of West Palm Beach under the names Alison and Ann Dadow.
But the two abruptly closed their studios in 2014, leaving workers and clients in the lurch. The sisters then re-surfaced in Utah, where they later claimed bankruptcy, citing hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that the sisters both have criminal records, including arrests relating to public intoxication.
They relocated to Hawaii several months ago, where they again got into trouble with the law. The twins were arrested for disorderly conduct and terroristic threatening on Maui on December 24, 2015. They failed to appear for court proceedings and bench warrants were issued. Duval's attorney said that she has now posted bail in that case and plans to return home to Upstate New York for her sister's memorial service.