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Woman accused of killing twin sister goes on trial today

A murder trial is underway for a woman accused of purposefully driving off a cliff in Hawaii, killing her identical twin sister.

On May 29, 2016, Alexandria Duval was driving along the winding Hana Highway in Maui with her twin, Anastasia Duval, in the passenger seat when the car plunged off a cliff.

Alexandria Duval survived the 200-foot fall, but her twin died at the scene.

PHOTO: In this May 29, 2016 Rescue workers lift Alexandria Duval, who is also known as Alison Dadow, from the bottom of a cliff on Mauis Hana Highway in Hana, Hawaii. Vicki Sawyer via AP, FILE
In this May 29, 2016 Rescue workers lift Alexandria Duval, who is also known as Alison Dadow, from the bottom of a cliff on Maui’s Hana Highway in Hana, Hawaii.

The sisters, born Alison and Ann Dadow, ran popular yoga studios in Florida before changing their names, according to The Associated Press. They moved to Hawaii in 2015.

PHOTO:In this undated file photo, Alexandria Duval and her identical twin sister, Anastasia Duval, are interviewed in front of their former yoga studio. WPBF
PHOTO:In this undated file photo, Alexandria Duval and her identical twin sister, Anastasia Duval, are interviewed in front of their former yoga studio.

Alexandria Duval, 39, is charged with second-degree murder and has pleaded not guilty.

Maui deputy prosecuting attorney Emlyn Higa said in his opening statement today that Alexandria Duval “intentionally or knowingly” drove off the cliff.

Defense attorney Birney Bervar, however, called the deadly car crash a “tragic accident, not murder.”

About an hour before the crash, another driver, Randolph Castro, saw the Duvals’ SUV swerving and saw other cars get out of their way, Higa said. Castro followed them and allegedly saw the Duvals stop a few times, the prosecution said.

At one point Castro allegedly saw the two sisters “physically fighting within the car,” and when Castro tried to find out what was going on, “the defendant just drove off again,” Higa said.

Another witness allegedly heard “screaming coming from within the SUV” and claimed to hear the driver yell approximately three times about needing a psychiatrist, Higa said.

PHOTO: Alexandria Duval walks into Albany County Court in this Nov. 18, 2016 file photo in Albany, N.Y.Mike Groll/AP, FILE
Alexandria Duval walks into Albany County Court in this Nov. 18, 2016 file photo in Albany, N.Y.

Alexandria Duval allegedly later stopped the SUV with the hazard lights on and continued to physically fight with her sister, the prosecution said.

After that, a witness allegedly said he heard the roar of the SUV’s engine and watched the SUV accelerate down the road, driving straight until it “suddenly jerked” to the left and went over the cliff, Higa said.

Higa said the case comes down to three facts: He alleges there was a hard acceleration, a hard left turn and no braking. Higa said the prosecution will present evidence from the road, the eyewitness who saw the crash and the data retrieved from the SUV that he said “indicated that the brakes were not used and quantifies the acceleration and the turn.”

Defense attorney Bervar in his opening statement said that he will show evidence from witnesses, the road, the car and the victim’s body to prove the crash was not criminal but a “tragic accident.”

PHOTO: Alexandria Duval, 39, charged with second-degree murder for the car crash that killed her sister, appears at her trial in Maui, Hawaii, Jan. 29, 2018.Pool/ABC News
Alexandria Duval, 39, charged with second-degree murder for the car crash that killed her sister, appears at her trial in Maui, Hawaii, Jan. 29, 2018.

Bervar said Anastasia Duval was “violently” pulling Alexandria Duval’s hair in the car.

“Several eyewitnesses … witnessed violent fighting and hair pulling — that the passenger was violently pulling my client’s hair with both of her hands — pulling it so hard it was jerking her head over the passenger side seat,” Bervar said.

The hair pulling was so violent, Bervar said, that found in the victim’s hands were long blonde hairs from Alexandria Duval.

Bervar said photos of tire marks will “show the car not taking a sudden left turn, but just running off the road.”

Duval agreed to waive her right to a jury trial and her fate will be determined by the judge.

ABC News’ Lisa Sivertsen, Julia Jacobo and Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

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