Driver in fatal Vegas Strip crash going to mental hospital

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police / MGN/ dconvertini / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

LAS VEGAS (AP) – A judge decided Friday there won’t be a trial anytime soon for a 25-year-old woman accused of killing one pedestrian and injuring at least 34 others from several states by intentionally driving a car onto a crowded Las Vegas Strip sidewalk.

Lakeisha Nicole Holloway argued with Clark County District Court Judge David Barker, said she didn’t trust the public defenders handling her case, and muttered to herself while Barker ordered her sent to a state mental hospital for observation and treatment.

The judge noted that one doctor found Holloway was unable to assist in her defense, and she refused a second evaluation.

“Excuse me sir. I don’t need mental health assessment,” Holloway said as she stood in shackles with a uniformed court officer at her side. “That’s absolutely a mess. They’re trying to cover something. That’s not cool.”

Holloway accused one of her appointed lawyers, Scott Coffee, of writing the state death penalty. The judge noted that Coffee has spent decades fighting the death penalty. Coffee stated that he serves on a committee reviewing procedural aspects of capital punishment.

Outside court, Coffee and co-counsel Joseph Abood said it was clear Holloway was mentally ill.

Holloway is accused of 71 felonies including murder, attempted murder and battery with a deadly weapon in the Dec. 20 crash. A child endangerment charge stems from allegations that Holloway had her 3-year-old daughter in the car at the time of the crash. The girl wasn’t injured.

Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Arizona, died in the crash. The injured were tourists from California, Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington state, Mexico and Canada.

Holloway was from Portland, Oregon, and she told police that she and her daughter had been in Las Vegas for about a week before the crash – living in the car that she parked at casinos where security guards kept making her move.

Records in Oregon showed she changed her name in October to Paris Paradise Morton, but Coffee said she used the name Lakeisha Holloway in Las Vegas.

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