Suspect in Las Vegas crash due in court; motive remains a question

LAS VEGAS -- A woman from Oregon accused of intentionally plowing her car with her 3-year-old daughter in the back seat through crowds of pedestrians on a Las Vegas Strip sidewalk faces a judge Wednesday on felony murder, hit-and-run and child abuse charges.

See Full Article

But one key question is likely to remain unanswered during Lakeisha Nicole Holloway's initial court appearance: What might have driven a 24-year-old former model of accomplishment by at-risk teens to what authorities call a homicidal act that put her child in danger?

One of her public defence attorneys, Joseph Abood, said Holloway plans to plead not guilty. In Nevada, the plea is assumed during an initial court appearance. Holloway won't be asked to answer the charges against her until a preliminary hearing in coming weeks.

"We can all agree this is a shocking and tragic event," Abood said as he expressed sympathy for the families of Jessica Valenzuela and at least 35 people injured in the Sunday evening crash near the Paris Las Vegas resort.

Valenzuela, 32, was from Buckeye, Arizona. Officials said the more than 35 other people who were hurt were from California, Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington state, Mexico and Quebec, Canada. Three were still in critical condition Tuesday, and five others remained hospitalized.

Abood, who represented another driver after a similar crash at nearly the same place in September 2005, said he and his defence colleague, Scott Coffee, will need to see police reports, witness accounts and video -- and confer with Holloway -- before deciding her defence.

The defence lawyer acknowledged that Holloway's mental health could become an issue, but said she hadn't had a psychological evaluation.

Holloway remains on suicide watch in jail, where she is being held without bail.

Authorities say casino and streetscape video shows the 1996 Oldsmobile running down a sidewalk and hitting tourists -- but avoiding street signs, light poles and other vehicles -- before it swerves back onto Las Vegas Boulevard and then onto the sidewalk again.

The video may not be made public until a preliminary hearing.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, who has said he expects "a great number" of charges will be filed as the investigation continues, said Tuesday that Holloway could face more than 30 charges of attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon.

"I've personally seen the videos from a variety of angles, and I'm appalled at the callousness of this defendant's conduct and what appears to be an intentional act," Wolfson said.

The felony child abuse and neglect charge accuses Holloway of endangering her daughter her in the vehicle. The child wasn't hurt in the crash and was placed in the custody of a county child protective services agency.

In Oregon, where she changed her name in October to Paris Paradise Morton, Holloway won honours for overcoming a rough childhood and homelessness to graduate from an alternative high school in Portland.

She was featured in a 2012 video produced by the non-profit Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, which helps at-risk youths with education and job training. She said she was going to college and entering the workforce.

"Today I'm not the same scared girl I used to be," she said in the video. "I'm a mature young woman."

After her arrest Sunday, she told Las Vegas police she was broke, homeless and tired of being shooed away from casino parking garages with her car and her daughter. Authorities said she might have been on her way to Texas to find the estranged father of her daughter.

The Strip was "a place she did not want to be," according to an arrest report.

"She would not explain why she drove onto the sidewalk but remembered a body bouncing off her windshield, breaking it," the report said.

People jumped on the car and banged on its windows, but Holloway kept driving, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told reporters. She went about a mile with the broken windshield and a flattened tire before pulling into an off-Strip hotel and telling a valet to call 911.

Holloway didn't resist when police arrived, and she spoke coherently about what happened, the sheriff said.

A police drug-recognition expert concluded that she wasn't drunk but may have been under the influence of a stimulant.

Wolfson said results of blood testing for drugs and alcohol were not yet known.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Toronto cop who Tasered and stomped on suspect appears before disciplinary hearing

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A Toronto police sergeant who stomped on and repeatedly Tasered a man during arrest has made his first appearance at a disciplinary hearing. Sgt. Eduardo Miranda was charged with unlawful or unnecessary use of authority and discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act after a civilian police oversight agency investigation. Source
  • Bangladesh plans separate shelters for Rohingya children

    World News CTV News
    DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Bangladesh is planning to build separate shelters for 6,000 Rohingya Muslim children who entered the country without parents to escape violence in neighbouring Myanmar, a government official said Tuesday. Children make up about 60 per cent of the estimated 480,000 Rohingya Muslims who have poured into Bangladesh over the last four weeks to flee persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Source
  • Former B.C. finance minister Mike de Jong enters Liberal leadership race

    Canada News CTV News
    VICTORIA -- British Columbia's former finance minister Mike de Jong has announced his bid for the provincial Liberal leadership, joining a race that already includes two other past cabinet ministers and the former mayors of B.C. Source
  • Trump to visit Puerto Rico next Tuesday

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump says he'll visit hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico next Tuesday. Trump announced the visit after the administration came under criticism for its response to the damage on the island that is home to more than 3 million U.S. Source
  • NCAA coaches among 10 charged with fraud, corruption

    World News CBC News
    Four college basketball coaches were among those facing federal charges Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said. The coaches were identified in court papers as Chuck Person of Auburn University, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona, Tony Bland of the University of Southern California and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State. Source
  • Canadian sailors find 'near total devastation' in Dominica after Maria

    Canada News CTV News
    ROSEAU, Dominica - A Canadian warship captain says a small Caribbean island has suffered "near total devastation," and locals are growing increasingly desperate a week after hurricane Maria. Commander Gord Noseworthy says the Halifax-based frigate HMCS St. Source
  • Ontario minor hockey makes transgender training mandatory for coaches

    Canada News CTV News
    Education on transgender athletes is mandatory for all of Ontario's minor hockey coaches, trainers and managers this season, the latest step in a series of changes stemming from a human rights complaint filed by a transgender teen in 2013. Source
  • U.S. interior chief says third of employees not loyal to Trump

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says nearly one-third of employees at his department are not loyal to him and President Donald Trump, and he is working to change the department's regulatory culture to be more business friendly. Source
  • Russia conducts military drills with ICBMs in Siberia

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW - The Russian military has launched military drills involving intercontinental ballistic missiles in Siberia. The Defence Ministry said Tuesday the manoeuvrs involve the Yars missile launchers along with support vehicles. It said 4,000 troops will be involved. Source
  • U.K. getting 'more realistic' about Brexit but much work to do, EU says

    World News CBC News
    Brexit talks haven't yet made sufficient progress to begin negotiating a new relationship between Britain and the European Union, European Council president Donald Tusk said Tuesday, but he's now "cautiously optimistic" about the way ahead. After meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Tusk said he believed Britain had finally abandoned an unrealistic "having a cake and eating it" approach to Brexit. Source