Hit-and-run defendant’s request to relocate to Pennsylvania denied

A judge denied a request from a defendant accused in the August hit-and-run death of a local high school student to leave Indiana for a new job in Pennsylvania.

Shiam Sunder Shankara Subramanian, 25, of 3224 Country Brook St., was arrested following the Aug. 30 death of 16-year-old Columbus East High School student Lily J. Streeval.

The defendant is accused of attempting to drive around a stopped Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. bus with warning lights flashing and arm signal extended. Investigators say his car struck Streeval as she was crossing a rural road to board the bus.

Streeval was later pronounced dead at Columbus Regional Hospital. The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the cervical spine and chest, according to Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting, who also ruled the death as a homicide.

During a Tuesday afternoon hearing in Bartholomew Circuit Court, defense attorney James H. Voyles of Indianapolis told Special Judge Joe Meek that Subramanian, a citizen of India, is only allowed to stay in the country on a work visa.

After Subramanian was fired Sept. 27 as an engineer at Faurecia, immigration law gave him 60 days to find another job, Voyles said. If the defendant remains unemployed after 60 days, the U.S. government could have him deported in six months, the attorney said. Before he was released from jail in early September, the defendant was ordered to surrender his passport, which makes him less of a risk for flight, the defense attorney said.

Subramanian told the judge he has sought employment with at least 20 different employers, and was briefly offered another job in Columbus until the employer did a background check and denied him the job.

That has been the case for each job Subramanian has attempted to obtain in Indiana due to the publicity generated by the case, Voyles told the judge.

During the hearing, Voyles said his client was seeking permission to move to West Chester, Pennsylvania – a community of 20,000 residents located 631 miles from Columbus – to accept a job offer made on Nov. 11.

But Deputy Prosecutor Kimberly Sexton said the written job offer from ValidIT Solutions, LLC was also contingent upon Subramanian passing a background check. When Sexton asked whether the Pennsylvania firm had already completed the check and was still offering the job, Subramanian only said the company was aware of his situation and that he had emailed the firm his job acceptance.

However, he remained unclear during questioning by Sexton on whether the background check had been completed and the job offer was still valid.

Meek and Sexton expressed the same concern that Subramanian could lose the job in Pennsylvania. Since he has no legal residence at this time, there is a risk he could move elsewhere without the court knowing his whereabouts, they said.

The $500,000 cash bond that Subramanian paid to be released from jail was intended to ensure that he shows up at all court hearings, Meek said.

“The best way to do that is to keep him in our jurisdiction,” said Meek, who also told the defendant he is not convinced that all possible job opportunities in Indiana have been exhausted.

Subramanian is formally charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death or catastrophic injury, a Level 4 felony, and passing a school bus when arm signal is extended causing death, a Level 5 felony.

If found guilty on both felony counts, Subramanian could be sentenced to between seven and 26 years in prison, as well as face fines up to $20,000.

A change of plea hearing for Subramanian is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Jan. 3. A tentative trial date presided over by Circuit Court Judge Kelly Benjamin has been tentatively set for Feb. 1.