Attorneys representing a local man accused in the hit-and-run death of a 16-year-old Columbus East High School student attempting to board a school bus Aug. 30 are seeking a change of venue to move the case out of Bartholomew County.
In a court filing, the attorneys, James H. Voyles and Brittney Newland, claim Shiam Sunder Shankara Subramanian, 25, of 3224 Country Brook St., Columbus, cannot receive a fair trial in Bartholomew County due to public hostility against him, public outrage over the alleged offense, “prejudicial reporting” that castigates him and speculative opinions as to his personality and character.
The attorneys state Subramanian’s case has attracted significant media attention on television and in print media as well as a large social media following.
Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Kelly Benjamin has set a hearing on the defense motion for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 22. The defense motion contends that not only can Subramanian not receive a fair trial in Bartholomew County, the same would apply for several surrounding counties.
Subramanian, 25, of 3224 Country Brook St., was charged with Level 4 felony leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death or catastrophic injury and Level 5 felony passing a school bus when the arm signal is extended causing death, court records stated.
Bartholomew County Sheriff deputies were sent to 1950 S. Gladstone Ave. at 6:55 a.m. Aug. 30 after 16-year-old Lily Streeval attempted to cross Gladstone’s two lanes of traffic to get to her school bus, which was stopped with the stop arm extended and lights flashing in the northbound lane, court documents state.
Witnesses said a driver, later identified as Subramanian, was driving a Honda southbound toward the northbound bus, disregarded the bus stop arm and struck the teen, then left the scene, according to court records.
Witness Brian Rea, a Columbus resident who was driving a vehicle stopped behind the bus, turned around and notified police he was following Subramanian, who later got stuck in a ditch on County Road 250E, oddly enough in a police officer’s yard, where he was taken into custody.
Subramanian’s bond was set at $1.25 million and he has since been released from jail, according to jail records. The prosecutor’s office was granted a request that since Subramanian is a citizen of India and in the U.S. on a work visa, he must surrender his passport to the court prior to posting any bond, court records state. He is reportedly a quality control engineer at Faurecia.
A Level 4 felony conviction carries a possible prison sentence of two to 12 years and a fine of up to $10,000. A Level 5 felony conviction carries a prison sentence of one to six years and a fine of up to $10,000.
A probable cause affidavit filed with the charges stated that when officers arrived at the scene, they found the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. bus on Gladstone facing north, with Streeval several feet behind the bus on the ground, being attended to by witnesses. BCSC officials and investigators said there were about 20 students on the bus who witnessed the hit-and-run along with the bus driver and Rea.
Multiple personal and clothing items belonging to Streeval were found in the road and behind the school bus, according to court affidavits.
When officers were on their way to the scene, they were told a witness, later identified as Rea, was following the suspect’s vehicle, which was stopped near South County Road 250E and East County Road 275S behind another school bus, court documents state.
Rea told investigators he approached Subramanian and told him that he had hit a child at the bus stop and he was following him. Subramanian then attempted to turn around in a nearby yard to leave the scene and became stuck in an embankment, court documents state.
Subramanian’s white Honda Civic had a shattered windshield, a dented hood and multiple other markings and damage indicating it had been involved in a recent crash, court documents state.
When questioned by police after being read his rights, Subramanian admitted to police that he “hit something” and had seen flashing lights ahead while driving south on Gladstone on his way to work, the court affidavit states.
Accident reconstructionists determined that even though the bus had its red lights flashing and the stop arm extended, Subramanian continued to drive toward the bus without slowing down, then continued without stopping after hitting Streeval in the roadway, court documents stated.
Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting said in an earlier interview that all life-saving efforts possible were undertaken at Columbus Regional Hospital to save the teen’s life, but she was pronounced dead at the hospital. The cause of death ruling was blunt force trauma to the cervical spine and chest with the death ruled a homicide.