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

  • Rescuers searching for survivors of Tehran high-rise collapse

    World News CTV News
    TEHRAN, Iran - Rescue teams worked overnight to try and reach trapped firefighters and other victims after a commercial building collapsed and killed at least 30 firefighters. Scores of workers and dozens of trucks were searching the ruins for victims Friday, a day after a historic high-rise building in the heart of Iran's capital caught fire and later collapsed. Source
  • Thai farmers turn to gold panning after floods devastate fields

    World News CTV News
    BANG SAPHAN, Thailand -- Nature regularly taunts the farmers of Thailand by flooding their fields, but this time she's tossed some of them a potential safety net: the chance to pan for gold. Crops in Bang Saphan district, a rural community 240 kilometres south of Bangkok, were decimated by heavy flooding that affected much of southern Thailand in the week after New Year's. Source
  • Kenney reassures unite-the-right crowd after tumultuous week for Alta. PCs

    Canada News CBC News
    Jason Kenney dismissed a week's worth of very public party infighting at a Calgary town hall meeting organized to bring Alberta conservatives together. "In any leadership election, especially when the stakes are this high, there is going to be some high emotions and some friction," the man who wants to lead Alberta conservatives told reporters after the meeting. Source
  • 'I will see you tomorrow': president-elect Trump to supporters at Lincoln Memorial

    World News CBC News
    With fireworks heralding his big moment, Donald Trump swept into Washington Thursday on the eve of his presidential inauguration and pledged to unify a nation sorely divided and clamouring for change. The capital braced for an onslaught of crowds and demonstrators — with all the attendant hoopla and hand-wringing. Source
  • Many voters struggle to believe reality of Trump presidency as inauguration looms

    World News CTV News
    On the morning 19 months ago when Donald Trump descended the escalator in his glitzy Manhattan tower, waving to onlookers who lined the rails, many Americans knew little about him beyond that he was very rich and had a thing for firing people on a reality television show. Source
  • Doctors consider removing George H.W. Bush’s breathing tube

    World News Toronto Sun
    HOUSTON — Former President George H.W. Bush, who has pneumonia, remained in stable condition Thursday at Houston Methodist Hospital, while his wife, Barbara, said she is feeling “1,000% better” after undergoing treatment for bronchitis. Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said the 41st president’s physicians are “actively evaluating him” for removal of a breathing tube that was inserted Wednesday in a procedure to clear his airway. Source
  • UN concerned over predominance of child soldiers in Somalia extremist group

    World News CTV News
    UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is alarmed at reports that children may constitute a large part of the force recruited and used by al-Shabab Islamic extremists in Somalia. Guterres said it is estimated over half its force are children, citing as an example that at least 60 percent of al-Shabab "elements" captured in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region in March 2016 were youngsters. Source
  • 'I call him my hero': Man saves wife on 3rd plunge into frozen lake

    Canada News CBC News
    Audrey Berndt usually accompanies her husband Kevin Wiseman when he grooms the trails for a West-Quebec snowmobile club. She says she doesn't want him to be alone, in case something goes wrong. Something did on Wednesday night around 6 p.m. Source
  • Brazil judge dies in plane crash ahead of corruption probe ruling

    World News CTV News
    RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki's died in a small-plane crash just weeks before he was to rule on a major corruption case that could implicate high-ranking politicians in several Latin American countries. Source
  • Conservative leadership candidates square off at Winnipeg forum

    Canada News CBC News
    Candidates for the Conservative party leadership squared off at a leadership forum on Thursday night that covered an array of issues ranging from carbon pricing to the role of the federal government with respect to Indigenous people to Canada's obligations to NATO. Source