BERLIN – While the family awaits September’s jury trial, the community is looking to remember Gavin Knupp with a memorial paddle out on the one-year remembrance of his death next week.
Knupp was 14 years old when he was struck and killed on July 11, 2022, in a hit-and-run collision on Grays Corner Road as a pedestrian by a vehicle driven by Tyler Allen Mailloux, 22, of Berlin. Knupp was a pedestrian along the road after taking a cell phone picture of a stuffed deer head attached to a telephone pole. He was returning to a vehicle drive by his older sister, Summer, who tended to her brother awaiting paramedics. Knupp died from injuries sustained in the collision. Mailloux allegedly fled the scene and did not return, according to charges filed. Six days after the incident, at 1:30 a.m., the Mercedes identified as the vehicle in the collision was seized from a home in the Ocean Reef community.
Next week’s one-year anniversary of Knupp’s passing will be observed with a public recognition, as the family is hosting a memorial paddle out on 36th Street at 5 p.m. in Knupp’s remembrance.
After months of investigation, felony charges were filed in late April in the hit-and-run tragedy that claimed the life of a local teen last summer. The 17 charges filed by State’s Attorney Kris Heiser’s office in Worcester County Circuit Court on April 28 were failure to immediately stop vehicle at scene of accident involving bodily injury, two counts of violation of 20-102 knew, reasonably knew accident might result in serious bodily injury and injury occurred, failure to immediately return and remain at scene of accident involving bodily injury, failure to immediately stop vehicle at scene of accident involving death, two counts of violation of 20-102 knew, reasonably knew accident might result in death & death occurred, failure to immediately return and remain at scene of accident involving death, two counts of failure of driver involved in accident to render reasonable assistance to injured person, two counts of failure of vehicle driver in accident to report bodily injury, death, attending vehicle damage, property damage to nearest police, failure of vehicle driver involved in accident to give insurance policy information and four counts of failure vehicle driver within 15 days after accident result in body injury, death to furnish required report to administration.
Under Maryland’s Transportation code, leaving the scene of an accident in resulting in bodily injury is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000. The maximum penalty jumps to 10 years in prison and $10,000 when the accident results in death.
A motions hearing is planned for Aug. 18 when retired Judge Brett Wilson of Dorchester County is expected to hear a change of venue request filed June 15 by Mailloux attorney George Psoras of Lutherville. The motions hearing was originally scheduled for Aug. 16 to be heard by Circuit Court Judge Brian Shockley. The hearing was postponed until Aug. 18 to be seen by Wilson, according to online case search files. A jury trial is set for Sept. 11-14 in Worcester County.
Documents have been filed in court revealing a look at the court battle ahead. A number of supporting documents were filed along with the 10-page venue change request, including exhibits sharing dozens of comments slamming Mailloux on the Justice for Gavin Facebook page, which has grown to 23,350 followers. The request for a change of venue seeks fairness for Mailloux, according to the legal document. The state is expected to contest the change of venue request at next month’s hearing.
As the discovery phase gets underway in the case, Psoras has indicated in court documents the state must prove Mailloux was aware he struck Knupp on Grays Corner Road. Psoras asked the state in a court document to detail the “conduct and acts of the defendant which demonstrates the defendant had any actual or constructure knowledge that he was in an accident with a person involving bodily injury or death.” The attorney added, “The state has not alleged that defendant acted in any criminal or negligent manner regarding the operation of the vehicle prior to the accident.”
While declining to comment on the ongoing criminal matter, Knupp family attorney Neil Dubovsky restated their faith in the judicial process on Tuesday.
“As we approach the one-year anniversary of Gavin’s passing, the Knupp family remain as committed as ever to honoring Gavin’s legacy and making sure that justice is served,” he said. “We have complete trust and confidence in the State’s Attorney’s office to that end.”
In May, Tiffany Knupp, Gavin’s mom who lives in Ocean Pines, told WBOC the charges finally being filed had her “overwhelmed” at the first step in the legal process.
“I thought it was going to be one of those days you feel justice is finally here and we do, I do, but at the same time now we have to see him face to face,” she said. “I think the hardest thing for me this morning was to see the case number and realize my son is now a case number. It’s tough, it’s a whole new … there’s a lot of feelings involved. It’s been so hard to get to this point. We want to thank everyone in this community who has given us the strength to push through everything we have pushed through to this point.”
The Knupp family from the beginning have maintained their confidence in law enforcement and the State’s Attorney’s Office. She reiterated the faith she had in the investigation and understood charges would take time.
“We wanted them to do their due diligence. We were never worried this would not happen,” Knupp said. “Being on the inside of this, you know how long it takes for a case like this. When someone doesn’t come forward and admit what they have done after they have killed a child, it takes a while to build that case and they had to do it from scratch. They got there and here we are today.”