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

  • Police detain Islamic State suspects in Spain, Britain, Germany

    World News CTV News
    MADRID -- Police on Wednesday arrested six suspected members of the Islamic State group, four in Spain and one each in Britain and Germany, Spain's Interior Ministry said. A ministry statement said the man arrested in Britain was a Salafist imam who led the group and who was sought by several countries. Source
  • Fish market owner upset by large lobster TSA photo

    World News CTV News
    OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. -- The owner of a Connecticut fish market says she is "personally offended" after she saw a photo of a 9-kilogram lobster being handled by a Transportation Security Administration screener on social media. Source
  • Solitary confinement under scrutiny as Ottawa moves to limit use of controversial practice

    Canada News CBC News
    Locked up in solitary confinement for 43 days last year at the maximum security Edmonton Institution, Matthew Hamm's only view of the world outside his cell was through a mail slot. And even then the only thing he could see was a brick prison wall. Source
  • No more coffee breaks: Pilot schooled after touching down next to P.E.I. Tim Hortons

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    O’LEARY, P.E.I. — A coast guard helicopter pilot has been schooled on the appropriate use of the aircraft after touching down in a field near a Tim Hortons in P.E.I. for a coffee fix. The chopper landed in a barren field in the small Island community on March 16, prompting surprised onlookers to take to social media with comments about the unusual sighting and photos of the red aircraft whipping up poofs of snow as it set down. Source
  • U.K. prosecutors charge 6 over 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster

    World News Toronto Sun
    British prosecutors have charged six people over the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster in Sheffield, in which 96 soccer fans were crushed to death. Those charged include the police commander on the day, David Duckenfield, who is accused of gross negligence manslaughter. Source
  • Pilot schooled on proper chopper use after touching down next to Tim Hortons

    Canada News CTV News
    O'LEARY, P.E.I. -- A coast guard helicopter pilot has been schooled on the appropriate use of the aircraft after touching down in a field near a Tim Hortons in P.E.I. for a coffee fix. The chopper landed in a barren field in the small Island community on March 16, prompting surprised onlookers to take to social media with comments about the unusual sighting and photos of the red aircraft whipping up poofs of snow as it set down. Source
  • Police helicopter attacks Venezuela's Supreme Court

    World News Toronto Sun
    CARACAS, Venezuela — A police helicopter fired on Venezuela’s Supreme Court and Interior Ministry in what President Nicolas Maduro said was a thwarted “terrorist attack” aimed at ousting him from power. The confusing exchange, which is bound to ratchet up tensions in a country already paralyzed by months of deadly anti-government protests, took place as Maduro was speaking live on state television Tuesday. Source
  • 'That stuff lives with you': Juror advocate says Saretzky jury has tough road ahead

    Canada News CTV News
    LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - The jury in gruesome Alberta triple murder trial has a difficult road ahead even after they finish their deliberations, says a former juror who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in the jury box. Source
  • U.K. prosecutors charge 6 in 1989 Hillsborough stadium deaths

    World News CBC News
    British prosecutors charged six people Wednesday in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster in which 96 soccer fans died, many of them crushed to death — the first criminal charges in the tragedy that changed English soccer forever. Source
  • Ransomware attack hits property arm of France bank BNP Paribas

    World News CBC News
    A global cyberattack has hit the property arm of France's biggest bank BNP Paribas, one of the largest financial institutions known to be affected by an extortion campaign that started in Russia and Ukraine before spreading. Source