The woman responsible for the deadly crash in the Windsor Hills area of Los Angeles that killed six people—including a pregnant woman, her unborn child, one-year-old son and fiancé—was charged Monday (Aug. 8) with six counts of murder and five counts of gross vehicular manslaughter.
The Los Angeles Times reports that 37-year-old Nicole Lorraine Linton is accused of reckless disregard for life in connection with the multi-vehicle crash that happened last Thursday (Aug. 4).
Prosecutors said Linton, a registered nurse from Texas, was behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz that was traveling at a rate of nearly 100 mph when she sped through a red light shortly after 1:30 p.m. and crashed into traffic at the busy intersection of La Brea and Slauson avenues.
“In an instant, Ms. Linton’s conduct took the lives of six people and injured many others,” L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón said.
Investigators with the California Highway Patrol also found that Linton has a history of dangerous crashes and was involved in 13 prior crashes.
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In order for Linton to be convicted of second-degree murder, prosecutors will have to prove that she acted with implied malice and knew that driving at a high speed on city streets was dangerous to human life.
Such charges are typically presented if the driver is impaired and has a prior DUI conviction after completing DUI classes, and because Linton has a history of dangerous crashes, prosecutors say she knew the threat posed by her driving behavior.
Gascón added that there’s no evidence Linton was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash at this time.
“I know that some of you spoke to a woman that alleged they have been drinking together. The CHP is working to identify this person, but we don’t have any further information,” he said. The district attorney said he wasn’t “going to get into the details” of what prompted the crash and would not comment on what caused it.
Linton’s murder charges are for the deaths of 23-year-old Asherey Ryan, her nearly 1-year-old son Alonzo Quintero, her fiancé Reynold Lester and their unborn child whose birth was due in mere weeks as Ryan was 8½ months pregnant when she was killed. The baby she was carrying was a boy named Armani Lester, and both his birth and death dates were the same day.
“A young family was destroyed in the blink of an eye,” Gascón said in announcing the charges against Linton, a native of New York who spent the last 10 years working as a nurse in Texas before relocating to California where she was temporarily licensed a nurse with a focus on ICU care.
Linton was also charged with murder for the deaths of two women killed in the crash who haven’t been identified yet. The five counts of vehicular manslaughter against her are for the deaths of the four adults and Baby Alonzo, who would have celebrated his first birthday in about two weeks. Ryan’s unborn child couldn’t be included in those charges.
Surveillance footage captured the moment Linton’s black Mercedes-Benz was speeding down La Brea Avenue in Windsor Hills as dozens of cars were seen crossing Slauson Ave.
The Mercedes didn’t appear to slow down before running a red light and crashing into cars in the intersection. The vehicle caught on fire upon impact and flew into a light pole before finally stopping. After the collision, a flame trail was seen burning on the ground and billowing smoke could be seen from miles away.
According to CPH investigators, at least six vehicles were involved in the crash, and in addition to the six fatalities, eight people were injured.
Linton was hospitalized with moderate injuries (a broken foot and broken wrist) for several days before being taken into police custody. It was previously reported that she was being held on $9 million bail at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood.
If Linton is convicted of all of the charges brought against her, she could face up to life in prison.