Suspects accused of killing family in crash denied youthful offe - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Suspects accused of killing family in crash denied youthful offender status

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Dominique Smith and Jeffery Howe were denied youthful offender status at a hearing today. Dominique Smith and Jeffery Howe were denied youthful offender status at a hearing today.
Police say the suspects were trying to escape after robbing an elderly couple when they crashed into a car holding a family of three, killing everyone inside. Source: WBRC video Police say the suspects were trying to escape after robbing an elderly couple when they crashed into a car holding a family of three, killing everyone inside. Source: WBRC video
Ryan Culwell and Amber Verus were killed in the wreck. Ryan Culwell and Amber Verus were killed in the wreck.
Their daughter Rogue Marie Culwell was also killed. Their daughter Rogue Marie Culwell was also killed.
Ryan Culwell's father, Max Culwell, says he believes the suspects should be tried as adults. Source: WBRC video Ryan Culwell's father, Max Culwell, says he believes the suspects should be tried as adults. Source: WBRC video
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Two men accused of killing a family in a traffic accident appeared in court for a youthful offender status hearing on Tuesday.

Police say the pair had just robbed an elderly couple in Cordova and were trying to escape when they collided with a car holding a couple and their infant daughter.

On Birmingport Road in October 2012, Amber Verus and Ryan Culwell were hit and killed along with their 10-month old daughter Rogue Marie. Police arrested 19-year old Jeffrey Howe and 20-year old Dominique Smith for the crime.

The suspects have yet to be charged with robbery in Walker County, but they each face three counts of murder in Jefferson County.

Since both men were below the age of 21 when they were arrested for their crimes, their attorneys argued they should be tried as juveniles, not as adults. But the judge and the victims' family members feel otherwise.

"They were old enough to know what they were doing," Max Culwell said. His son and granddaughter were killed in the crash.

He and several other family members watched the proceedings as Smith was denied first, then Howe. Afterwards, Fox6 News spoke with Howe's attorney Scott Boudreaux.

"He really didn't do anything culpable in this case. He was merely a passenger. He was a passenger when the wreck occurred," Boudreaux said.

"Like my daddy used to tell me: guilty by association," Culwell said.

Howe and Smith are charged with felony murder. If they're convicted, they face a possible sentence of life in prison.

"If they're locked up, that's good enough. They don't get no freedom and that would be fine with me," Culwell said.

A trial date was set today for May 5, 2014. The family also has also filed a civil suit against both the defendants.

Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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