As prosecutor, Jeremy Markle read the statement of the facts aloud, Alexander Michael Crosby bowed his head, his eyes fixed on the table.
Markle said Crosby took a Heritage Gardens Tree and Lawn Care Specialists truck and plowed it into a bicyclist, Brian Utne, and left him to die on the side of a York County road on Oct. 25, 2018.
On Thursday, Crosby pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. A third charge of reckless driving was dropped as part of a plea deal and cooperation agreement with prosecutors.
In the minutes after the October crash, Crosby caught up to a coworker who called their boss, Markle said. The boss, Robert John Strickland Jr., told Crosby he’d take care of everything.
In November, the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office caught up to Crosby instead. They charged the 26-year-old Barhamsville man with involuntary manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving after he killed Utne, according to the court filings and Virginia Gazette archives.
The presiding judge, Richard Rizk, found Crosby guilty on the two charges.
Crosby’s sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 22 at 1 p.m., in the meantime, Crosby will need to continue to cooperate with prosecutors to hold up his end of the bargain. He already faces 20 years in jail and $5,000 in fines.
That means prosecutors expect Crosby to testify and provide evidence against his former boss, Strickland.
On Friday morning, Strickland appeared before Judge William Shaw for an arraignment hearing on charges of concealing evidence, obstruction of justice and accessory to a felony. Commonwealth’s Attorney Benjamin Hahn asked the court for a two-day jury trial.
In a statement of facts read at Crosby’s arraignment, Markle accused Strickland of trying to cover up the crash.
Strickland drove to the scene immediately after Crosby hit Utne, and instead of helping Utne, Strickland left and met with Crosby to have the truck towed away secretly, court filings said.
Strickland was charged after several witnesses came forward and told York-Poquoson sheriff’s deputies that Strickland had taken covert action to hide evidence, according to court documents.
Strickland had the truck towed to Gloucester and had the damage repaired, filings said. Strickland told people who knew Crosby had hit a bicyclist to say Crosby had merely hit a deer.
This isn’t Strickland’s first run-in with law enforcement, according to Daily Press archives.
In 2011, a company owned by Strickland admitted guilt in the death of a teenager under Strickland’s care.
The 14-year-old boy died after he was pulled into a wood chipper while working for Strickland’s company, Old Dominion Tree and Lawn Care.
Strickland was the boy’s guardian and was initially charged with felony child endangerment, but the charge was later dropped.
If convicted, Strickland faces as many as three years in jail and $7,500 in fines, according to Virginia Code.
Strickland didn’t say a word in the courtroom, and his attorney entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.
The trial is scheduled for Sept. 11 and 12 in the circuit court.