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Clearwater woman arrested in year-old hit-and-run death

PALM HARBOR — Nearly a year ago, a 58-year-old Clearwater woman named Robin Anne Vallie was killed in a hit-and-run accident while trying to cross U.S. 19 on foot.

At the scene of the Feb. 9 crash, the Florida Highway Patrol was able to find only paint chips from the vehicle that had hit her. Investigators appealed to the public for tips.

That led them to a suspect in the case — Mollie Anne Dove, who was arrested this week.

Dove, 21, of 27350 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater, is charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving a death and driving with an expired license, according to Pinellas County Jail records. She was arrested and then released from jail on bail Monday night.

Vallie died at the scene of the accident, which happened about 8:45 p.m. on a Tuesday night in the southbound lanes of U.S. 19 just north of Fox Chase Boulevard in Palm Harbor.

She was survived by a brother in Connecticut and by her father, who lived in Treasure Island and who died last June.

State troopers say Dove was driving a 1999 gold, four-door Toyota Camry. Officers say her Alabama driver's license had expired in October 2008, more than 15 months before the fatal accident.

Jail records show that Dove has previously been arrested in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties on charges of domestic battery and criminal mischief.

After Vallie's death, troopers initially had no suspects and asked the public for tips. They said the vehicle that had been involved in the crash probably had heavy front-end damage and a broken windshield.

A tip led them to Dove shortly afterward, said FHP Lt. Larry Kraus. Her arrest was delayed because investigators had to examine forensic evidence and confirm the results of lab tests. Dove's attorney arranged for her to turn herself in, Kraus said.

Hit-and-run cases are often solved quickly based on eyewitness accounts or day-after confessions from drivers — or they aren't solved at all. When leads are scarce, authorities must rely largely on forensic evidence and community tips to keep cases alive.

The February 2010 accident was part of a spate of three hit-and-run crashes within six days in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. A recent study found that the Tampa Bay area was the second-most-dangerous place in the country for pedestrians. The nonprofit group Transportation for America issued the report in late 2009.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

Clearwater woman arrested in year-old hit-and-run death 01/25/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 7:39pm]
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