Driver Pleads Not Guilty to Murder Charge
August 1, 2008
A Huntsville woman facing a federal murder charge in a wreck that killed a man on Redstone Arsenal has pleaded not guilty in federal court.
Valorie Kiel Cox, 35, entered the plea during an arraignment hearing before Magistrate Paul Greene in Birmingham, according to published reports. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith. State charges are also pending.
Authorities say Cox and another woman were fleeing from Huntsville police May 30 when they raced through Gate 1 and crashed into a car, killing 39-year-old Darren Spurlock, a Marshall Space Flight Center employee.
Redstone commander Maj. Gen. Jim Myles announced Friday the results of the investigation into the May 30 incident in which two drug suspects in a vehicle fleeing local authorities unlawfully entered Gate 1 and caused the fatal wreck.
"In a situation like this it is important that we, the Army, thoroughly investigate all matters related to an incident to ensure it does not happen in the future," Myles said. "The Army is stringent in its investigation of itself and holds itself to high standards. We have already embraced some of the lessons learned from this report."
For security reasons, the entire final report cannot be released; however, the key lessons learned and actions taken are noted below. In the final report of the investigation, a number of recommendations were made that Team Redstone leaders began reviewing and implementing immediately.
The investigation confirms that at the time of the incident, security measures at Gate 1 were in place with current Force Protection conditions. These measures allowed for the normal flow of vehicles because the known terrorist/criminal threat at the time didn't justify stricter protective measures.
As a result of the investigation, authorities can confirm that Redstone was not notified in ample time to implement stricter Force Protection measures at Gate 1. Telephonic notification of the pursuit by the HPD 911 Center to the Redstone 911 Center was made after the suspects' vehicle and HPD undercover chase cars had passed through Gate 1.
Since learning this, Redstone has worked closely with HPD to improve a Memorandum of Agreement as it pertains to pursuing criminal suspects. This work will ensure Redstone officials are doing things in the most effective manner. For example, HPD will notify Redstone 911 Center of any pursuit regardless of the pursuit location.
The Arsenal is also streamlining the communication process between HPD and Redstone's Directorate of Emergency Services. For example, Redstone's 911 Center monitors all Huntsville city emergency communication traffic on an HPD radio. If there is a potential for Redstone involvement, HPD acknowledges the task to positively notify Redstone 911 Center. This was put into place immediately following the incident.
The investigation also proved that the guards at the gates were in compliance with the existing rules of engagement. In this case, deadly force would not have been appropriate because of the lack of information and short response time. To further sharpen the guard's skills, additional training will focus on use of gate security systems and no-notice exercises at each gate.
The investigation identified additional gate requirements. The following are examples of some of the recommended protective measures put into place or planned for imminent implementation:
Aca,!Ac Completion of the restructuring of additional concrete barriers outside each gate to slow down incoming traffic.
Aca,!Ac Adding improved security measures such as tire shredders at gates until scheduled upgrades are in place.
Aca,!Ac Continuing to ensure that each gate has the most up-to-date countermeasures in place through scheduled upgrades. Before the incident, a series of upgrades had already been scheduled. The upgrades include fortified booths and lanes for better lane control through the gates and Grab-it Net Systems.
Aca,!Ac Improving line of sight at each gate. Immediately following the incident, trees were removed to improve the overwatch guard's line of sight at Gate 1. Gate leaders at other gates will also identify potential future improvements so that leadership can take action to remedy them.
Although gate security is key, it's only one element of an overarching force protection strategy. Stopping a terrorist (or anyone without authorization to enter the installation) is not just about securing a gate; it's about understanding the threat to the installation. Arsenal officials partner closely with federal and local organizations that are responsible for combating terrorism.
"Our daily challenge is safely allowing 48,000 cars on and off the installation each day while maintaining the mandated level of security," Myles said. "We will continue to work daily with our partners on Redstone Arsenal and our partners in the community to support Soldiers and civilians everywhere. Through the findings and recommendations of our investigation, we will continue to improve the quality, and maintain the security of our installation to ensure the safety of those who work and live on the Arsenal."