AUSTIN -- An Austin jury took just a few hours Friday to convict Rashad Owens of the fatal 2014 South by Southwest Music Festival crash.
Owens will spend life in prison without parole. He was convicted of killing four people and injuring 20 others after driving through a barrier into a crowd of people downtown at the music festival. Prosecutors and defense attorneys rested their case Thursday afternoon. The defense did not call a single witness to the stand during the trial.
After the verdict was read, family members and victims were allowed to take the stand and address him directly. Owens cried and wiped away tears as he faced them. Many of them struggled to speak as they remembered their loved ones, some saying they could not forgive him for what happened.
"Her husband is broken beyond repair. I pray to God that he heal a little bit. He is a strong person but he is so broken. I am so broken. She was beautiful and she had a beautiful spirit," said Jamie West's mother, Shon Cook. "I'm sad. I'm broken and hurt and I'm mad. Why did I have to lose my baby!?"
"She was a very beautiful girl, very spirited, very happy and kind," Sandy Le's sister, Pauline, said.
Prosecutors spoke to the jury after the decision. They told Kvue it was the video evidence that helped the jury reach a quick decision.
"They couldn't get past the video, that it was all caught on the video. They did, in fact, call us in the courtroom and wanted to watch the video of him in the back of Mitchell's car, but they wanted to listen to his statements of him being aware of what he had just done," said Prosecutor Marc Chavez.
Owens did not have a chance to speak but his attorney, Rickey Jones, said he is remorseful and even wrote a letter of apology that he was not able to share in court. Jones said it was difficult for Owens to face the victims, but he realized it was part of their healing process.
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