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BY PORTSIA SMITH
The trial of the Sky Express bus driver charged in a crash that killed four passengers last year is scheduled to begin this morning.
Last week, the same charges were dismissed against Sky Express bus dispatcher Zhao Jian Chen, 41, of Greensboro, N.C., at the request of Caroline Commonwealth's Attorney Tony Spencer.
Because of a gag order, Spencer is unable to discuss the case. But last week, defense attorney Ted Bruns called the accusations
Bruns said the prosecution's case against Chen was based on Cheung's claim that Chen told him he could lose his job if he didn't drive the Sky Express bus on May 31, 2011, from North Carolina
Cheung fell asleep and the bus overturned on Interstate 95 near the Carmel Church exit just before 5 a.m., according to police.
"We provided Mr. Spencer with some evidence that called into question the truthfulness of what Mr. Cheung had claimed," Bruns said without going into specifics. "It will be pretty clear when [Cheung] is tried."
Bruns said Chen spent three months in jail based on a lie that Cheung told.
"Crashing the bus is one thing, but throwing Mr. Chen under the bus is another," Bruns said.
"Sometimes the cover-up is worse than the crime," he said.
Chen was subpoenaed last Tuesday by the Virginia State Police to testify in Cheung's trial.
On the morning of the crash, Cheung admitted to police that he fell asleep while driving Sky Express bus No. 386 north on I-95. The bus ran off the right side of the highway, hit an embankment and overturned, landing on its roof.
Of the 58 passengers aboard the bus, 53 were taken to 11 different hospitals in the region.
Killed in the crash were Karen Blyden-Decastro, 46, of Cambria Heights, N.Y.; Sie Giok Giang, 63, of Philadelphia; Josefa Torres, 78, of Jamaica, N.Y.; and Denny Estefany Martinez, 25, of Jersey City, N.J.
State police spokeswoman Corrine Geller said fatigue was a factor in the crash, and speed is what caused the bus to flip. The speed limit in the crash area is 70 mph.
The trial, which will include Mandarin Chinese translators, is expected to last the majority of the day.
If found guilty of all four counts of involuntary manslaughter, Cheung could face up to 40 years in prison.
Cheung is no stranger to the area. According to public records, he lived in the 11000 block of Sunburst Lane in Spotsylvania County from 2005 to 2008.
Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419