During last year’s SXSW, Rashad Owens, attempting to escape from police, drove his car into a crowd of people outside Austin venue the Mohawk. The resulting crash killed four people and injured many more. Owens was charged with capital murder, as well as four counts of felony murder, and testimony in his trial began earlier this week. It didn’t take long. The Austin-American Statesman reports that a jury found Owens guilty of capital murder after just three hours of deliberation. He will spend the rest of his life in prison. There is no possibility of parole.
Owens’ lawyers were arguing that Owens didn’t intend to harm anyone, that the deaths were accidental. But Owens reportedly didn’t slow down once he started hitting people; he may have actually accelerated when that happens. To find someone guilty of capital murder, the jury had to unanimously agree that Owens “intentionally or knowingly caused the death of two or more people.”
Experts said, based on impact, Owens was going about 55 miles per hour when he hit all those people, and according to a data recorder in his Honda, Owens accelerated from 40 to 53 miles per hour in the seconds before he hit his first two victims. Officers reported that, after going through video of the attack, they never saw him hit his brakes. Below, you can watch footage of the prosecution’s closing argument, which includes frankly horrifying video of the crash site.
I am no fan of the prison industrial complex, but I can’t say I’m sorry to see this guy going away forever.