Enquirer Herald

Driver goes to court

Tyler Stasko could be heard but not seen in court Thursday.

The 20-year-old sat in a wheelchair at the Mecklenburg County jail, making him too low to be captured on the camera that beams inmates' images into the courtroom.

It was his first court date since he was charged with three counts of second-degree murder in connection with last weekend's fatal wreck on N.C. 49 near the state line.

Stasko likely will remain in jail at least until his April 20 bond hearing.

Thursday's hearing came a day after the funerals for the three people killed in the wreck -- Winthrop University assistant professor Cynthia Furr, her 2-year-old daughter, McAllister Price, and 13-year-old Hunter Holt.

Police said witnesses told them the Mitsubishi Eclipse Stasko was driving was racing a Chevy Camaro at speeds exceeding 80 mph when he collided with Furr's car.

Thursday, more than a dozen of Stasko's friends and relatives sat in the courtroom, several teens wearing pink shirts.

"We're just here for support. He's part of our community," a man told reporters as he left the courthouse.

A woman said Stasko goes to church three days a week. She described him as "a person with a big heart."

"That's why they're wearing pink," she said. "He wore pink all the time."

Defense attorney Deke Falls and what appeared to be Stasko's family members, at least one crying, didn't talk to reporters as they left the courthouse.

Falls, asked by an Observer reporter if he would talk, replied: "I can not."

Furr and McAllister died after the Mitsubishi Eclipse police said Stasko was driving collided with their Mercedes on Saturday along N.C. 49 near the state line. Holt was a passenger in the Eclipse.

Witnesses told police the Eclipse was racing a Chevy Camaro heading south along the divided, four-lane highway.

Police said the Camaro drove away from the scene.

Carlene Carol Atkinson of York owns the 2000 Camaro that authorities seized as evidence a few hours after the crash, according to police and York County tax records.

A York County sheriff's report states that Atkinson, 44, told authorities "she was driving the black Camaro."

Atkinson, according to a 10-year driver's record provided by the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, has had 14 speeding tickets and one citation for driving too fast for conditions. The record shows she was convicted in each case. She also has a pending speeding ticket in North Carolina, according to court records.

Stasko has been ticketed once in North Carolina, according to court records. He was cited in November for failing to stop at a stop sign and having no operator's license. He pleaded guilty to the license citation. The stop sign citation was dismissed.

Atkinson did not want to comment Thursday for this story, according to two young men who met a reporter at the front gate of the driveway to the family home in southern Mecklenburg County near the state line.

A man who called himself the family's lawyer Monday hasn't returned mulitple calls this week seeking comment.

At the intersection where the crash took place, two pedestrians stopped Thursday at a makeshift memorial of flowers, stuffed animals and hand-written notes to Cynthia Furr and her daughter, Mackie.

In the grassy median across three lanes of traffic, four wooden crosses and more flowers, stuffed animals and an Amazing Grace songbook sat in front of a police monitor that flashed the speeds of each car passing through the intersection.

A mix of cars, SUVs and heavy trucks buzzed by at 45 to 58 mph through the 55-mph zone.

Cars looking to exit the RiverPointe neighborhood onto N.C. 49, as Furr did the night she died, timidly inch out into traffic that they watch coming from the north over a slight hill that blocks the view.