• October 31, 2014

SXSW suspect indicted on capital murder charge

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Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 8:14 am

AUSTIN — The man accused of killing four people and injuring dozens in a deadly crash at the South by Southwest festival was indicted on a charge of capital murder Monday.

A Travis County grand jury handed down a laundry list of charges against Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, of Killeen, including one count of capital murder, four counts of felony murder and 24 individual counts of aggravated assault.

Owens, an aspiring hip-hop artist, plowed into a crowd of festival-goes on a busy street March 13 while attempting to flee police, police said. Video of the incident showed Owens driving for almost three city blocks and accelerating into crowds without braking, according to an arrest affidavit.

Owens eventually got out of the car and attempted to flee on foot. He was caught after police shot him twice with a stun gun.

At the scene. Owens told police he had warrants and didn’t want to go to jail.

Police believe Owens also was intoxicated at the time of the crash.

The affidavit stated he had a blood alcohol level of 0.114 at the time of the crash, far above the 0.08 legal limit.

Victims of the crash included Jamie West, 27, and Steven Craenmehr, 35, both of whom died at the scene.

Deandre Tatum, 18, and Sandy Le, 26, died of their injuries in the days following the incident.

If convicted, Owens, a Shoemaker High School graduate, could face the death penalty. The possibility of the death penalty prompted strong response from Herald readers, including Andre Hollins.

“Can a person be executed twice in the state of Texas?” Hollins wrote on the Herald’s Facebook page Tuesday. “Because that’s what he really deserves.”

Reader Ed Frazee echoed a similar sentiment. “Without sounding violent myself, I do believe the punishment will fit the crime.”

Owens is in Travis County Jail. His bail is set at $5.5 million.

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