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SXSW Hit-and-Run Driver Sentenced to Life in Prison

Rashad Owens found guilty of capital murder, meaning he intentionally drove his car into Austin crowd in 2014

SXSW, Rashad Owens

Rashad Owens has been found guilty of capital murder after plowing his car into an unsuspecting crowd at South by Southwest 2014.

Laura Skelding/Austin American-Statesman via AP

Rashad Owens, the man who killed four people as he drove his car his into a group of people during South by Southwest in 2014, will spend the rest of his life in prison. A Travis County jury found the 23-year-old guilty of capital murder Friday, according to Austin American-Statesman. Deliberations lasted only a little more than three hours.

To reach the capital murder verdict, the jury had to agree unanimously that Owens intentionally killed two or more people. The paper reports that they also had to decide that he was fleeing police when he committed the act.

Authorities arrested the Killeen, Texas resident, then 21, a little after midnight on March 13th, 2014, after he bulldozed through a temporary barricade set up for the Austin festival in his Toyota, injuring dozens and ultimately killing four. They charged him then with two counts of capital murder and several counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle. The chief of police said that Owens’ actions were intentional and that he was driving a stolen Toyota. About a month later, police added four more assault charges. He was being held at $5.5 million bail.

In court, the defense argued that since Owens came from a small town, he was unfamiliar with the big city and didn’t realize that the street was closed and people were in his way until it was too late. But prosecutor Amy Meredith disagreed, arguing that while he was being pursued for the stolen car, Owens drove around a gas station and, once on the street where he hit several people, swerved around a parked car blocking him.

“There is no other answer than that the defendant knew what he was doing — and he didn’t care,” she said, according to the paper. “He didn’t care who was in his way. He was not going to be stopped. He was not going to go to jail.”

In This Article: SXSW

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