On Oct. 25, Yorktown bicyclist Brian Utne died after the driver of a Heritage Gardens Tree and Lawn Care Specialists truck plowed into him, but as police and sheriff’s deputy’s looked for a suspect, the owner of the truck took steps to hide evidence from law enforcement, court documents allege.
Weeks later, Robert John Strickland Jr — the owner of the company vehicle — was charged with concealing evidence, obstruction of justice and accessory to a felony, according to arrest warrants filed in York-Poquoson General District Court.
Alexander Michael Crosby, 25 of Barhamsville, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving after he killed Utne in the crash with the company vehicle, according to the court filings and Virginia Gazette archives.
The filings allege Strickland knew Crosby hit Utne after Crosby left a nearby job site.
According to the court documents, Strickland drove on 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.
Strickland was charged after several witnesses came forward and told sheriff’s deputies that Strickland had taken covert action to hide evidence.
Strickland had the truck towed to Gloucester and had the damage repaired. Strickland told people who knew Crosby had hit a bicyclist to tell others 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 in connection with Utne’s, Strickland faces as many as three years in jail and $7,500 in fines, according to Virginia Code.
Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.