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Rashad Charjuan Owens, suspect in deadly South By Southwest crash, charged with murder



AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The drunken-driving suspect who police say killed two people after he smashed his car through a street barricade at the South By Southwest festival did not use his brakes and even accelerated as he approached crowds, according to an arrest warrant released Friday.

Rashad Charjuan Owens was charged with one count of capital murder, though additional charges can be added later. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has said Owens intentionally steered toward pedestrians early Thursday in hopes of escaping an officer who was trying to pull him over. Acevedo has suggested Owens could face two capital murder charges and as many as 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.

The 21-year-old from Killeen, about 70 miles north of Austin, remains in police custody after a district court judge set his bail at $3 million. Jail records did not list an attorney for him.

According to the arrest warrant, Owens told police that he "got scared" when he saw police lights behind him around 12:30 a.m. Thursday because outstanding warrants meant he could go to prison for five years. Owens told police he's facing old kidnapping warrants issued as part of a custody battle over his daughter.

A breath test indicated Owens' blood-alcohol content was .114, exceeding the legal limit of .08, the arrest warrant released Friday says.

The officer who tried to stop Owens was looking for suspected drunken drivers when he spotted a 2012 gray Honda Civic that didn't have its headlights turned on, the arrest warrant says. Owens then made a turn from a middle lane and "would have caused a crash" with the police cruiser had the officer not turned to avoid it, according to the warrant.

Investigators say Owens then cut through a gas station and sped the wrong way down a one-way street before crashing through police barriers blocking a street closed for South By Southwest festivities - forcing another police officer manning the roadblock on foot to dive out of the way.

Police say Owens then plowed into a crowd of concertgoers, hitting and killing a man from the Netherlands on a bicycle and an Austin woman on a moped. Investigators say he eventually crashed into a taxi and parked van and tried to run before police subdued him with a stun gun.

The warrant says a video from the police unit giving chase "shows the Honda accelerating into crowds, not simply crowded areas but crowds of people who are hit by the car and flung into the air." It adds that Owens drove "for almost three city blocks, accelerating into crowds and does not use his brakes, as in the video there are no brake lights visible from the rear of the Honda."

Court records indicate that Owens pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Fairbanks, Alaska, in October 2011, when he was 19. He also was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, but that was later dismissed.

Owens also faced 2012 charges in Alaska of criminal mischief, and a warrant was issued for him after he failed to appear in court. In 2010, meanwhile, he was arrested in Texas by Killeen Independent School District police for criminal trespassing and pleaded guilty.

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rt270rifleman March 15 2014 at 10:09 AM

This is exactly the kind of crap that should be removed from society and stay behind bars until they reach room temperature, period.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
rwitchwoman63 March 15 2014 at 2:15 PM

I hope this guy gets the worst of penalties under the law and goes to prison for a very long time, at least that way INNOCENT people will be protected if he is off the streets!!!!!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
knorman1969 March 15 2014 at 2:14 PM

Well he probably won't be able to use the affluenza defense and he will probably spend the rest of his life in jail. What I don't understand is why not take a cab or just walk it off.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Mike March 15 2014 at 10:18 AM

I have to comment on this because it seems that many people here seem to think it is a racial thing. THIS HAS NOTHING to do with race. This guy is going to spend a long time in jail because there is EVIDENCE. There are WITNESSES. It is sick when someone tries to use race as a defense to a crime, african american, european american, whatever. The guy was drunk and tried to get away from the cops by plowing through crowds at an event... DONE, go to jail.
NO, I was scared so I just went crazy and ran crazy through the crowds to escape. NO, I am privileged, my parents are rich, and they never taught me any common sense, so I don't have to go to jail. SICK!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
Howard Mike March 15 2014 at 10:37 AM

Not racial, huh? Well then explain how/why the rich white kid - also in Texas who was just as drunk, had no one cops chasing him, plowed into a standing vehicle, killing 4 people and crippling (for life) 2 others. He gets sent to a rehabilitation resort, costing $500,000 per year - not charged with any crime; does no time in prison. Not racial - Really??? What this Owens kid did was wrong and he should be punished - sent to prison for whatever is considered an appropriate period. But it is plain injustice - evidence of our slanted, unequal, crimminal justice system when a white person, committing a similar crime is allowed to walk away with a slap on the wrist. And people like you, with your biased opinions only adds to the problem

Flag Reply +1 rate up
dnina100 Mike March 15 2014 at 10:48 AM

THIS IS THE POINT ,,,,,,,,,,,,,You so right!!!!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
papajokr March 15 2014 at 8:51 AM

Black muslim?

Flag Reply +3 rate up
cesiler March 15 2014 at 1:47 PM

i guss they wont have to look for him any more.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
frmthebookofrage March 15 2014 at 9:10 AM

time to crank up ole sparky

Flag Reply +14 rate up
Mike March 15 2014 at 9:14 AM

Someone who drives drunk and then results in a death, should go away for 20 years with no chance for early release. It is a choice (even if you are loaded) to get behind the wheel not an accident.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
dneil55859 March 15 2014 at 9:20 AM

Well hopefully now he won't have to sit in jail for 5 years but instead will get sent to the great beyond by Texas much sooner.

Flag Reply +19 rate up
HOKIE March 15 2014 at 8:43 AM

Not Me...it was my evil twin reggie

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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