Six people, including a pregnant woman, were killed in Los Angeles in what California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Franco Pepi called “one of the most horrific crashes that we’ve seen.”
The driver, 37-year-old traveling nurse Nicole Lorraine Linton from Houston, was charged Monday with six counts of murder and five counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
The five counts of vehicular manslaughter are for five people who were killed in the crash. An unborn child could not be counted for the manslaughter charge, Los Angeles County DA George Gascon said. The six counts of murder include the unborn child.
The pregnant woman, Asherey Ryan, was 23 years old. Her security-guard boyfriend, Reynold Lester, 24, their infant son, Alonzo, and their unborn child, Armani, also perished in the fiery crash. The names of the other two victims were not released.
“My other half is gone,” said Sha’seana Kerr, Ryan’s sister.
“You can’t justify taking my sister and her whole family. You can never justify that,” Kerr said. “You can’t justify taking away the other lives. You can’t justify going down a whole hill … through a red light.”
According to Kerr, the six charges of murder are only the “bare minimum.”
Linton faces up to 90 years to life in prison if convicted. One source said she was ordered to be held without bail, while another said she was held “in lieu of $9 million bail” in LA County’s Century Regional Detention Facility.
At her first court appearance, Linton did not enter a plea. She arrived in a wheelchair.
The prosecutors stated that her Mercedes-Benz car was driven 90 mph last Thursday. The vehicle plowed into cars in an intersection in Windsor Hills and set several vehicles on fire.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Halim Dhanidina, Linton’s lawyer, stated that his client has an out-of-state history of “profound mental health issues.” These mental health issues could be linked to the crash, but Dhanidina did not specify how.
There has been no evidence that Linton was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to authorities. The CHP stated that Linton had at least 13 crashes prior to the incident. In 2020, she was involved in an injury accident that totaled two cars.
The CHP said it was aware of the threat her driving history and behavior posed.