SXSW 2014
2:10 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

SXSW Crash Update: Capital Murder Charge for Rashad Owens; Victims Remain Hospitalized

Summary: 21 year-old Rashad Owens has been formally charged in this week’s crash that killed two people and injured 23 on Red River Street during South by Southwest. As of Saturday, he remains in custody.

Court documents show Owens had a blood alcohol content of 0.114, above the legal limit of .08. Read the entire charging affidavit here.

Owens was charged with one count of capital murder. His bail was set at $3 million. More charges could follow.

South by Southwest concluded Sunday with a handful of events. A charity fund created for the crash victims and their families, SXSW Cares, has already netted tens of thousands of dollars. 

Update on Crash Victims: 

A third victim in the crash died at Brackenridge hospital Monday morning. Follow KUT's Monday update on crash victims here

 

Read below for updates from throughout the day Friday. And read KUT's additional coverage of the crash: 

Update: Why Owens Faces Only One Capital Murder Charge (7:05 p.m.)

The Austin Police Department's official statement on the arrest is out. It clarifies why Owens faces only one capital murder charge when he's accused of killing two people:

The reason only one Capital Murder charge was filed is that Texas State law requires two or more deaths in the same criminal transaction for the filing of a Capital Murder charge. Please refer to section 19.03 (7) of the Texas Penal Code which can be found here:  http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.19.htm#19.03

See the full release here.

Update: From the Affidavit - Nightmarish Description of Crash (4:57 p.m.)

The police affidavit describes police car video of the crash , and what it refers to as "other video" from the scene:

"The videos show the Honda accelerating into crowds, not simply crowded areas but crowds of people who are hit by the car and flung into the air. The videos shows that Owen drives for almost 3 city blocks, accelerating into crowds and does not use brakes as in the video there are no brake lights visible from the rear of the Honda."

Update: From the Affidavit - Owens Ran 'Because He Has Warrants' (4:41 p.m.)

KUT is reviewing the police affidavit used to charge Owens. One passage recounts a conversation Owens had with officers after his arrest, inside Brackenridge hospital:

"Owens admitted … that he saw the lights in his mirror … and that he got scared because he has warrants and didn’t want to go to jail for something he didn’t do. … Owens said that he has Kidnapping warrants and explained that he was part of a custody battle for his daughter."

Update: Owens Charged with Capital Murder (4:33 p.m.)

21 year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens has been formally charged with one count of capital murder.  Owens was allegedly drunk at the time of his arrest according to the police affidavit; police say he blew a .114 on a Breathalyzer at the hospital following his arrest. Bail has been set at $3 million.

Update: Crash Victim Fundraising Off to Good Start (1:15 p.m.)

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell has shared initial SXSW Cares fundraising numbers on Twitter:

Fest organizers say "The SXSW Cares Fund will help people affected by the tragic events of March 13, 2014 and future possible events. The funds will be disbursed to those most affected through a community-based process to be created by representatives of SXSW, the Austin Convention Center and the City of Austin."

Update: Emotional Support for Those Affected (11:27 a.m.)

While SXSW is still carrying on, some people may be struggling to process what happened.

To help, the City of Austin, the Red Cross and SXSW are making counselors available at an Emotional Support Center set up at the Radisson Hotel, 111 E Cesar Chavez St. The center is open today and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Headlines and Reactions

Overnight, longer takes on the event were published by several news outlets. Here's a roundup:

After Fatal Crash, Soul-Searching for South by Southwest (New York Times)

For nearly 30 years, the irreverent soul of this Texas capital city has been linked with what has been billed as the biggest music festival of its kind in the world — the ever-expanding mash-up of music, culture, technology and buzz known as South by Southwest.

But when two people were killed and at least 23 were injured shortly after midnight on Thursday after a driver evading arrest slammed his car into a festival crowd, it crystallized a question floating around the edges of the festival for years: Has South by Southwest become too big and too rowdy, and has it lost the original spirit of what it intended to be?

A tragic wake-up call for SXSW? (Los Angeles Times)

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo echoed Swenson, telling reporters, "We cannot allow one individual to ruin a celebration of life, of music."

Still, the incident comes amid widespread debate over the expansion of SXSW which started in 1987 as a music-industry showcase for undiscovered talent but in recent years has attracted top-level pop stars and corporate brands eager to reach an audience of perceived opinion-shapers.