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

  • Grand jury indicts U.S. soldier on terrorism charges

    World News Toronto Sun
    HONOLULU — A federal grand jury in Hawaii indicted a U.S. soldier Friday for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State group. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang was arrested by an FBI SWAT team on July 8. Source
  • Arctic exchange: Students from Toronto, Iqaluit swap places to tackle problems

    Canada News CTV News
    A group of Toronto students traded lives with teens from Nunavut in an exchange designed to give them a glimpse of challenges facing northern Canadians and the chance to brainstorm creative solutions. Daily difficulties were front-and-centre during the five-day visit in Iqaluit. Source
  • Firefighters bring nearly dead dog back to life

    World News Toronto Sun
    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A California fire department says a little white dog named Jack is recovering after firefighters rescued him from a burning home and brought him back to life. In a video posted to the Bakersfield Fire Department’s website that has been widely shared online, firefighter Matt Smith is shown carrying the nearly lifeless shih tzu from the house on Wednesday. Source
  • White House threatens Iran over detained Americans

    World News CTV News
    In this March 6, 2012 file photo, an FBI poster showing a composite image of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, right, of how he would look like now after five years in captivity, and an image, left, taken from the video, released by his kidnappers, in Washington during a news conference. Source
  • Minneapolis police chief resigns in wake of officer shooting

    World News CTV News
    Minneapolis police Chief Janee Harteau resigned Friday at the request of the mayor, who said she lost confidence in the chief following last week's shooting death of an unarmed Australian woman by a police officer. Source
  • 'We need him': Yazidi mother pleads for Canada's help to reunite with injured son

    Canada News CTV News
    A Yazidi refugee who escaped Iraq with four of her six sons is pleading for Canadian officials to reunite her with her 12-year-old son Emad, whom she only recently learned is alive. An Islamic State attack in August 2014 separated Nofa Mihlo Zaghla from two of her sons and her husband. Source
  • Minneapolis police chief resigns in wake of Justine Damond shooting

    World News Toronto Sun
    Minneapolis police Chief Janee Harteau resigned Friday at the request of the mayor, who said she lost confidence in the chief following last week’s shooting death of an unarmed Australian woman by a police officer. In a statement released Friday, Harteau said: “I’ve decided I am willing to step aside to let a fresh set of leadership eyes see what more can be done for the MPD to be the very best it can be. Source
  • Minneapolis police chief resigns after officer's shooting of Australian woman

    World News CBC News
    Minneapolis police Chief Janee Harteau resigned Friday at the request of the mayor, who said she lost confidence in the chief following last week's shooting death of an unarmed Australian woman by a police officer. In a statement released Friday, Harteau said: "I've decided I am willing to step aside to let a fresh set of leadership eyes see what more can be done for the MPD to be the very best it can be. Source
  • Who is Anthony Scaramucci, Trump's new communications chief?

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- He was the only Trump ally on stage that day. Yet Anthony Scaramucci didn't seem to mind the tough questions from MSNBC host Joe Scarborough or the hostile crowd that filled the luxury hotel ballroom at last month's private gathering of Mitt Romney supporters. Source
  • Qur’an submerged in lard mailed to California Islamic centre

    World News Toronto Sun
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Police are investigating the mailing of a Qur’an submerged in a tub of what appeared to be pork lard to a Northern California Islamic centre. The Sacramento chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations received the package in June, and it follows two other incidents of defaced Qurans at nearby mosques last month. Source