Driver Found Guilty of Murder in SXSW Car Crash Tragedy
Published Nov 06, 2015Rashad Owens, the man charged with capital murder stemming from a deadly SXSW car crash in 2014 that killed four, was found guilty today (November 6). He was sentence to life in prison, with no option for parole.
Owens' trial started up in Travis County, TX, this week, and was concluded today following three hours of deliberations. As the Statesman reports, the jury unanimously agreed that Owens "intentionally or knowingly caused the death of two or more people" while fleeing police.
He had been driving his car without using headlights and hopped a barricade that closed off a street to regular traffic. While driving the wrong way down a one-way street, Owens collided with several vehicles and pedestrians before fleeing his car on foot.
It had been argued by Owens' lawyers that he had not intended to harm anyone when he crashed into a crowd outside of Austin nightclub the Mohawk, but prosecutors intended to prove otherwise. It was highlighted during the trial that not only did Owens fail to stop his car once he hit the crowd, but that he accelerated his vehicle.
Based on the impact, experts estimate that his Honda had been going about 55 miles per hour, while data collected from a black box catalogued that he went from 40 to 53 miles per hour seconds before making impact with the crowd.
"There is no other answer than that the defendant knew what he was doing — and he didn't care," prosecutor Amy Meredith told the jury. "He didn't care who was in his way. He was not going to be stopped. He was not going to go to jail."
Police had likewise argued that, going by video evidence captured via a police dash camera, it appeared as if Owens made no attempt to hit his brakes.
As previously reported, the incident claimed the lives of Steven Craenmehr, Sandy Le, DeAndre Tatum, and Jamie Ranae West. A number of crowd members were also left with less life-threatening injuries.