Frye Manslaughter Case Sent to Grand Jury

Loudoun District Court Judge Dean Worcester today heard enough evidence from four witnesses to send Zachary Frye’s aggravated involuntary manslaughter case to a grand jury for review.

At a little before 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 4, Frye, 20, struck and killed Lauren McDarby while she was walking along Morrisonville Road across from Zion Lutheran Church. Frye had allegedly been drinking, according to first-hand accounts at the scene and blood test results performed more than three hours later at Inova Loudoun Hospital’s Cornwall campus in Leesburg.

During Monday’s preliminary hearing, two residents and two Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office deputies described what they saw at the crash scene in January.

The first to testify, and the first to pull up to the scene on Morrisonville Road after Frye’s crash, was Steve Myers, a pest control worker who was on his way to a job that morning.

Myers said Frye flagged him down from the middle of the road by waving his hands and “hollering.” Myers said Frye was “really upset,” that he smelled of alcohol and that he kept repeating that he thought he had killed someone. He said he noticed that Frye’s RAV4 was about 30-40 feet away in the woods and that he noticed McDarby’s body on the shoulder of the road.

Myers said Frye at one point began banging his head against Zion’s stone sidewall and later against a tree.

Another witness, Jennifer Beamer, was on her way to the store when she came upon the crash scene just after Myers. Because Myers didn’t have any cell coverage, Beamer, who also said Frye smelled of alcohol, made the call to 911 at 7:28 a.m., according to phone records. She said that during the call, Frye stuck his head in her car window to ask if he could use her phone to call his dad when she was done with it.

Beamer said she thought Frye was merely upset that he had wrecked his car at the time she arrived, and that she thought Frye didn’t know someone had died. She said Frye later became “irate.”

Sheriff’s Deputy Sean McCartan, Woodgrove High School’s school resource officer, said that when he arrived on the scene, he noticed McDarby’s body on the shoulder of the road and that Frye was “screaming incoherently” and was in disarray. He said Frye repeated, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t do it—I didn’t mean to” and that at one point he said, “just take me away, just shoot me.”

McCartan said that when Frye was placed in the back of a deputy’s cruiser, he was “kicking” and “flailing” and butting his head against the window. “He was inconsolable,” he said.

Deputy Ronald Beach, the deputy in charge of investigating the DWI aspect of the case, said that Frye refused to give him his name when asked and that he frequently repeated the questions Beach asked him without answering them. “He was very emotional. He kept saying that he was sorry,” he said.

Beach said Frye was “combative” and in no shape for a field sobriety test. He said deputies decided to hobble restrain him before putting him in the cruiser.

Originally charged with driving while intoxicated and involuntary manslaughter, Judge Karen A. Henenberg, a retired Arlington County General District Court judge, in April agreed to amend the manslaughter charge to aggravated involuntary manslaughter, which upped the minimum penalty if convicted from 1-10 years to 1-20 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of one year behind bars.

At the commonwealth’s attorney’s office request on Monday, Worcester agreed to not prosecute the DWI charge.

If indicted on the aggravated involuntary manslaughter charge, Frye will be in Circuit Court on July 9 to schedule a trial.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

Zion Lutheran Church’s caution sign works to slow drivers traveling around a sharp turn on Morrisonville Road, near the spot where Lauren McDarby was killed by a suspected drunken driver while walking along the road Jan. 4. [Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]

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