Testimony Begins In SXSW Murder Trial

During last year’s SXSW, Rashad Owens, over the legal alcohol limit and attempting to escape from the police who were trying to pull him over, plowed his car into a huge crowd of people outside the Austin venue the Mohawk. Tyler, The Creator was headlining a show inside, and dozens of people were outside, hoping to get in or to meet Tyler after the show. Owens drove straight at them, injuring many and ultimately killing four. Right now, he’s on trial for capital murder and four counts of felony murder, and he’s pleading not guilty. His lawyers are arguing that he didn’t mean to harm anyone, though he didn’t slow the car down once he started hitting people. And yesterday, testimony began in Owens’ trial.

As The Austin American-Statesman reports, many witnesses, some of them in tears, began testifying yesterday, painting an absolutely harrowing image of the scene when Owens drove into that crowd. One witness said that Owens actually sped up once he drove into the crowd, and another said that he hit a woman so hard that she flew almost as high as a nearby telephone pole. The older sister of Sandy Le, one of the people killed in the crash, also testified about what kind of person Le was. (That’s a picture of Le above.) Below, you can watch video of the testimony, but I have to warn you that it’s not easy to see.

If convicted of capital murder, Owens faces mandatory life imprisonment. The other felony murder charges each carry a mandatory sentence of five to 99 years in prison.

Tags: SXSW