Currin case scheduled for jury trial in September

Kyler Forest Carlile, the suspect in the Currin case, faces today one count of failure to stop after an accident. Photo of Michael Currin.

Hannah Heil, Zoe Hill, Kaitlin Lewis, Samuel Taylor, & Olivia Vallone

“We pray for comfort and peace for each of you,” were the parting words of Eric Spina, president of the University of Dayton, as he addressed the student body following the passing of 20-year-old UD student Michael Currin. Laid out below his address was the novena in honor of St. Michael, a prayer that Currin’s family asked that the university use when praying for their son. 

In an unfortunate accident, the first-year business student from Montgomery, Ohio, near Cincinnati, was left in critical condition in the early morning of Sept. 20, 2020, after being tossed from the back of a pickup truck owned by 30-year-old Kyler Forest Carlile. Following a day in the hospital, Currin died from his injuries caused by blunt force trauma. 

Carlile, from New Lebanon, Ohio, was indicted by the Montgomery County grand jury on Feb. 4. Carlile today faces one count of failure to stop after an accident, which ultimately ended in Currin’s death. At a pretrial hearing on Feb. 19, Carlile pleaded not guilty to the charge. The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office did not offer the defendant a plea deal. 

Greg Flannagan, the public information officer for the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office, said the prosecution understands the tragic circumstances surrounding Currin’s death, and they are working to accurately uphold the law. 

“The police investigation found no indication the defendant was driving recklessly or was impaired,” Flannagan said.  “The law does require the operator of a motor vehicle to stop after an accident and remain there until authorities arrive.”

According to Flannagan, The Montgomery County Assistant Prosecutor Jacob Mosher believes that there is sufficient evidence available to convict Carlile. Security camera footage, interviews with the defendant and his passengers and crime scene photos are among the evidence listed in the case discovery. 

The Carlile case is currently scheduled for a jury trial to occur during the week of Sept. 13. Carlile’s attorney, Christopher Deal, said that it is unpredictable to know when a verdict will be reached, as it depends on the jury and its view of the presented evidence at the trial. 

Deal said that the prosecutor’s office and the defense council “seem to concur” that when Currin immediately fell out of Carlile’s truck bed, Carlile was not aware of the situation. The Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr.’s office believes that after Carlile reached his point of destination, he turned back around and would have noticed Currin on the side of the road. According to Carlile’s attorney, part of the prosecutor’s office argument in the case is that Carlile saw Currin and did not stop then.

Failure to stop after an accident is considered a third-degree felony under the Ohio Revised Code. This type of charge holds the maximum sentence of 36 months in prison and a driver’s license suspension ranging from 6 to 36 months.

UD, since the tragic accident, has discussed the topic of off-campus safety a bit less than the community might have hoped. Two days after the accident, Executive Director of News and Communications at UD, Cilla Shindell, sent out an email detailing what had happened. This email was a joint update from the UD Department of Public Safety and the City of Dayton Police Department.

“Public Safety continues to patrol campus areas and works with Dayton Police to patrol areas near campus,” Shindell said in the email. “We encourage students to review the Crime Prevention Tips on Public Safety’s website.”

Though UD Public Safety did keep students updated on what was happening with Currin, specific advice on traveling off-campus did not increase. The Crime Prevention Tips page does, however, suggest not walking alone at night and being wary of getting into unknown vehicles.  

UD freshman Kate Dillon says she doesn’t remember learning about off-campus safety in her orientation before school. However, Dillon and her floormates did have a discussion on this issue at a floor meeting with their resident assistant. After this accident, she says she and her friends started sharing the locations of their cell phones with each other just in case anything was to happen.

“A lot of us are more on edge, just more aware of what’s going on around us,” Dillon said.

Savalas Kidd, executive director and chief of UD Public Safety, declined to comment on anything regarding the case because it is an open investigation within the Dayton Police Department, the primary investigating agency. 

What the university is succeeding in is remembering Michael Currin. On the night that Currin died, Campus Ministry hosted a gathering for students and faculty via Zoom because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“There was prayerful remembrance and opportunities for storytelling about Michael,” said Crystal Sullivan, executive director of Campus Ministry. “Parents were in attendance, which is something that usually does not happen.”

A couple of days after the Zoom gathering, Campus Ministry put together an opportunity outside. Students were invited to gather on the Kennedy Union field and light a candle for their fellow student.

“It went really well,” Sullivan said. “A few hundred students came. The reach was broad. Friends of Michael’s parents, who were both UD alums, attended.”

Currin was also remembered in UD’s Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

“We always set up a memorial area in the Chapel when somebody dies,” Sullivan said. “People can go and light a candle, or say a prayer. Michael’s memorial was left up for a couple of weeks for people to go any time they wanted.”

A permanent memorial for Currin resides on campus at the Serenity Pines Garden in the shape of a copper leaf sculpture. The sculpture contains the names of the faculty, students and staff who have died while working or studying on campus. It is a way to ensure that the individual is never forgotten; their memory able to live on in the peaceful atmosphere of the university’s garden. 

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