2 accused of attempted cover-up in UGA student’s hit-and-run death

Suspect’s mother, stepfather also facing charges of tampering, arson

After arresting a driver accused in a hit-and-run crash that killed a University of Georgia student, Athens-Clarke County police have now charged the woman’s mother and stepfather with trying to cover it up.

Sophia Harris Steward, 57, and Roderick Dejuan Marble, 47, both of Athens, were arrested and each charged with felony tampering with evidence and second-degree arson, police announced Thursday. Steward was also charged with false report of a crime.

The couple are accused of attempting to hide the actions of their daughter, 28-year-old Vikerria Steward, who was previously arrested in the hit-and-run death of UGA student Knox Whiten on March 21, the announcement said.

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Vikerria Steward was arrested March 31 and charged with first-degree homicide by vehicle, hit-and-run resulting in serious injury or death, false report of a crime and driving with a suspended license, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

“These types of cases are among the most challenging to solve and I appreciate the diligent effort our investigators put into this case, working to bring these three individuals to justice,” Athens police Chief Cleveland Spruill said. “These arrests showcase our traffic unit’s experience, training and skills.”

According to the initial investigation, Vikerria Steward left the scene of the crash and later called police to report her car stolen.

“The vehicle that was involved was reported stolen by her and that was obviously deemed to not be the case,” a police spokesman said.

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At the time, police said they expected additional charges and arrests in the Toccoa man’s death. A little over a week later, they announced the arrests of Steward’s mother and stepfather, both of whom remain in the Athens-Clarke County Jail without bond, according to online records.

The false report charge and the tampering charges are out of Clarke County, while the arson charges are out of Jackson County.

Athens police said no additional arrests are expected.

Vikerria Steward was first arrested in Clayton County on separate charges. She remains in the Clayton jail without bond, jail records show.