Rashad Owens, the 23-year-old suspect who killed four and injured more than 20 people during SXSW 2014, is found guilty of capital murder, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The verdict came after nearly three hours of deliberations from a Travis County, Texas jury on Friday.
Jurors agreed with prosecutors that Owens knew he was endangering lives and killing others when he drove through a crowded street (9th and Red River in front of House of Vans at the Mohawk) at about 12:30 a.m. on March 13, 2014.
In closing arguments (which you can watch above), prosecutor Amy Meredith tells jurors that Owens refused to comply with police when they wanted to make a routine traffic stop. Meredith says Owens was aware that he drove through a police barricade just to avoid getting pulled over. “There is no other answer than that the defendant knew what he was doing — and he didn’t care,” Meredith said. “He didn’t care who was in his way. He was not going to be stopped. He was not going to go to jail.”
Complex’s Insanul Ahmed gave an eyewitness report the night of the incident, explaining, "There were several lines [outside of the venue]. I was standing on the left side with the badge-holders. There were people without badges waiting on the other side, some in the street. Security moved them onto the sidewalk, some people were possibly hanging off onto the street." He said he then saw a car knocking people on this line and that it looked like, "popping popcorn."
Defense lawyers Russell Hunt and Rick Jones argued Owens was unfamiliar with the layout of Austin and didn’t mean to murder anyone while he evaded police. “We don’t know at what point Mr. Owens perceived what was in front of him,” Jones said. “We don’t know what time he had to react.”
The verdict means Owens will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. It hasn't been revealed when he will begin his prison sentence.