Man accused of killing four at Texas SXSW festival heads to trial

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 26, 2015 11:57 AM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Jury selection started on Monday in the murder trial of a Texas man accused of plowing his car into a crowd at the South by Southwest festival in Austin last year, killing four people and injuring nearly two dozen.

Rashad Owens, 23, is facing 26 charges that include capital murder, which is punishable by death, for the accident at the annual SXSW celebration of music, technology and movies that draws tens of thousands to the Texas capital from around the world.

His trial is expected to start next week at a court in Austin.

Police said Owens fled from a sobriety checkpoint on March 13, 2014, smashed through a police barricade and then mowed down people, some of them lined up outside a nightclub, as he sped through several city blocks.

Jamie West, 27, of Austin, and Steven Craenmehr, 35, of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, died at the scene.

Sandy Thuy Le, 26, who had moved from Mississippi to Austin, died about a week later from injuries sustained in the accident and 18-year-old DeAndre Tatum, of Fort Worth, died shortly after that.

"This is an individual that showed no regard for the human beings that he plowed into in his attempt to get away," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said of the suspect at the time.

Rickey Jones, an attorney for Owens, said his clients feels sorry about what happened.

"He does have a lot of remorse," Jones told reporters on Monday.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)