Suspect in Las Vegas crash does not enter plea in court appearance

LAS VEGAS -- A woman accused of intentionally plowing a car carrying her child car through crowds of pedestrians on a Las Vegas Strip sidewalk spent less than two minutes Wednesday getting arraigned on murder, hit-and-run and child abuse charges.

See Full Article

Lakeisha Nicole Holloway, 24, pursed her lips and blinked as she was led in shackles into a courtroom. She was not asked to enter a plea but nodded to acknowledge that she understood she'll remain in jail through the holidays while both sides investigate Sunday's crash that killed one and injured dozens.

Defence lawyer Joseph Abood later characterized Holloway as "distraught" and overwhelmed. She plans to plead not guilty when the time comes, he said.

"This is sad and tragic for everybody involved," he said, adding, "Just because she's charged, doesn't mean she's guilty."

A judge set a Jan. 20 date for a preliminary hearing of evidence that police say they're still collecting.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said outside court that the evidence he has seen is clear, and that additional charges are likely, depending on the results of drug and alcohol tests and police findings. Those charges could include multiple counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon.

Wolfson characterized the quality of surveillance video that captured the crash as "superb." He said he believes it clearly shows Holloway intended to kill and injure people in front of the Planet Hollywood and Paris Las Vegas resorts.

"If you intentionally try and run somebody over, that certainly qualifies as an attempted murder charge, and that's one we are strongly considering," Wolfson said.

Left unanswered was what led a former award-winning high school graduate to mow down tourists and put her 3-year-old daughter in danger, according to authorities.

"We have heard nothing but good things about her in the past," Abood said. "This is a surprise to everyone. We have a lot of investigating and a lot of work to do."

The crash killed Jessica Valenzuela of Arizona and injured at least 35 others from several states, Mexico and Canada. Three people were still in critical condition, and five others remained hospitalized.

Abood, who represented another driver in a similar crash on the Strip in September 2005, said he and co-counsel Scott Coffee will need to see police reports, witness accounts and video before deciding on Holloway's defence.

Holloway is on suicide watch in jail, where she is being held without bail. The lawyer said Holloway's mental health could become an issue but that she had not had a psychological evaluation.

Casino and street surveillance video shows the 1996 Oldsmobile driving down a sidewalk and hitting tourists, while avoiding street signs, light poles and other vehicles, authorities say. The car swerved back onto Las Vegas Boulevard and then onto the sidewalk again. The video may not be made public until a later court hearing.

The felony charge of child abuse and neglect accuses Holloway of endangering her daughter, who was riding in the backseat. The girl wasn't hurt in the crash, and child welfare officials are caring for her.

Holloway is from Oregon, where she changed her name in October to Paris Paradise Morton. She 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," Holloway said in the video. "I'm a mature young woman."

The U.S. Forest Service hired her to do administrative work in its Portland office. Holloway joined the agency in 2009 and resigned in 2012, spokesman Glen Sachet said. She took a four-month break in late 2010.

Holloway had been in Las Vegas for about a week, police said. After her arrest Sunday, she told investigators she was broke, homeless and tired of being shooed away from casino parking garages, where she and her daughter would sleep in the car.

She might have been on her way to Texas to find the girl's estranged father, authorities said.

Abood and Coffee didn't answer a question about whether they have spoken with the father.

People jumped on the car and banged on its windows, but Holloway kept driving, authorities say. 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.

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

Associated Press writers Gosia Wozniacka and Steven DuBois in Portland, Oregon, and Kimberly Pierceall in Las Vegas contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Quebec City police say two-year-old girl was stabbed to death

    Canada News CTV News
    QUEBEC -- Police say a two-year-old Quebec girl who died in hospital after being found in a garbage can had been stabbed. Rosalie Gagnon's mother was charged Thursday with arson, mischief and obstructing the work of a police officer in the infant's death. Source
  • Quebec school boards say they're not ready for new surge of asylum seekers

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec schools are feeling the pressure as asylum-seeking families with young children continue to cross the U.S. border into the province. A spokeswoman for one of Montreal's largest school boards says it has had a record number of new students this past year, including some 700 who are asylum seekers. Source
  • Toddler found dead in Quebec City had been stabbed, police confirm

    Canada News CBC News
    Quebec City police say they now have the autopsy results for two-year-old Rosalie Gagnon, found dead in a garbage bin Wednesday, confirming she was stabbed to death. Police are asking residents whose garbage bins have gone missing and who live on or near de Gaulle Avenue to contact 911. Source
  • Supreme court changes guidelines for international child custody cases

    Canada News CTV News
    Canada's top court is issuing new guidelines on how international custody disputes should be judged, saying "all relevant circumstances" should be taken into account when deciding what country a child should live in. The direction from the Supreme Court of Canada comes in a ruling on a custody battle involving parents who clashed on whether their children should live in Canada or Germany. Source
  • Parliament Hill plays host to last annual marijuana rally before legalization

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Cannabis enthusiasts are gathering en masse on Parliament Hill to mark the annual marijuana celebration known as 4-20. The event marks the last time pot users will flock to the Hill to celebrate cannabis culture in late April before the federal government legalizes recreational marijuana later this summer. Source
  • Man accused of student murder not fit for trial: court

    Canada News CTV News
    NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. -- A man accused of murdering a student at a high school in Abbotsford, B.C., has been found unfit to stand trial because of his mental state. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes said Friday that the variability of Gabriel Klein's mental illness must be taken into account. Source
  • A look at each province's rules for marijuana legalization

    Canada News CTV News
    As cannabis culture is celebrated across Canada, the annual 4/20 day carries a special significance for Canadians this year, thanks to the promised legalization of marijuana that’s expected to take effect in the coming months. Source
  • Mourners lining up to pay final respects to Barbara Bush

    World News CTV News
    HOUSTON -- A spray of flowers covered the closed silver casket of former first lady Barbara Bush in the sanctuary of a Houston church as hundreds of mourners began arriving Friday to pay their final respects. Source
  • President George HW Bush greets mourners honouring his wife

    World News CTV News
    HOUSTON -- Former President George H.W. Bush surprisingly greeted some of the hundreds of mourners filing through a large Houston church on Friday as they paid final respects to his wife of 73 years, former first lady Barbara Bush. Source
  • Leaders approve Prince Charles to succeed Queen as Commonwealth head

    World News CBC News
    Prince Charles was approved to succeed Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth at a Friday meeting of the group's heads of government in the British town of Windsor. "We recognize the role of the Queen in championing the Commonwealth and its peoples," the Commonwealth leaders said in a statement. Source