Court upholds conviction in SXSW crash that killed 4 in 2014


A state appeals court Wednesday upheld the capital murder conviction of Rashad Owens in a series of automobile crashes that killed four during the 2014 South by Southwest music festival in downtown Austin.

Owens, who is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, asked the 3rd Court of Appeals to overturn his conviction, arguing that it was not supported by evidence that he knowingly acted in a manner likely to cause death when he drove around a street barricade and through a crowd while being pursued by police.

The appeals court rejected that argument, noting that Owens’ car was estimated to be traveling at 55 mph after he turned north onto Red River Street between East Ninth and East 11th streets.

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“Multiple witnesses, including some who were hit by the car, testified that they heard the car accelerate as it drove through the crowded street and that they never saw the car’s brake lights illuminated,” said the ruling, written by Chief Justice Jeff Rose.

“The jury also heard testimony that as Owens drove on Red River, people were screaming, there were loud, thudding sounds as the car was hitting bodies and sending them flying in the air, and some bodies were rolling off of the car,” Rose wrote.

Based on the testimony and evidence, jurors would have been justified in determining that Owens should have been aware that his actions were “reasonably certain to result in death,” the ruling said.

The appeals court also rejected Owens’ arguments that prosecutors’ closing arguments to the jury were improper and that the judge wrongly blocked a question from defense lawyers while jurors were being picked.



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