A third person has died in the tragic SXSW drunk driving incident that occurred early Thursday morning, according to The Austin American-Statesman. Sandy Le, 26, was pronounced dead this morning after being in critical condition throughout the weekend. Two others died in the crash: 27-year-old Jamie West and 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr. Six people remain in the hospital.
On Friday, suspect Rashad Charjuan Owens (who was in Austin to perform at an unofficial SXSW showcase) was charged with one count of capital murder and is in jail with bail set at $3 million. Today, police officials said that the case will be presented to a grand jury, which means that any other charges — including aggravated assault charges for the 22 others injured in the crash — will not be released unless he is indicted for them.
The Statesman provides an interesting look at the problems that could emerge with the decision to charge Owens with capital murder, which they say is “a rare if not unprecedented response to a suspect accused of hitting and killing others while driving intoxicated.” According to the article, a capital murder charge requires proof that “Owens acted with the intent to kill or while knowing his actions could result in the deaths of others,” which could prove problematic because Owens was drunk at the time of the crash.
The decision to pursue a capital murder charge fits with Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo’s earlier characterization that Owen’s actions were intentional, saying that he “showed no regard for the human beings he plowed through.”
[Photo via Matt Olsen/KVUE]