Driver may have suffered 'lapse of consciousness' before Windsor Hills crash that killed 6: Report

City News Service
Thursday, September 1, 2022
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A driver may have experienced an "apparent lapse of consciousness" during a mental health crisis in the moments before a crash in Windsor Hills that killed six people.

WINDSOR HILLS, Calif. (CNS) -- A judge postponed a bail review hearing Wednesday for a woman accused of running a red light and speeding into a Windsor Hills intersection, leading to a chain-reaction crash that killed six people.

Nicole Lorraine Linton, 37, was ordered to remain jailed without bail pending the rescheduled hearing on Sept. 12.

Superior Court Judge Victoria Wilson granted the prosecution's request for more time to seek additional documents involving Linton, a traveling nurse from Houston who was working at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center and is charged with six counts of murder and five counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence involving the Aug. 4 crash at La Brea and Slauson avenues.

Linton might have experienced an "apparent lapse of consciousness" during a mental health crisis in the moments leading up to the crash, according to a document obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

She is accused of speeding her Mercedes into the intersection of La Brea and Slauson around 1:40 p.m. that afternoon, broadsiding a vehicle and causing a fiery, chain-reaction crash that killed 23-year-old Asherey Ryan of Los Angeles, who relatives said was 8 1/2 months pregnant.

Her unborn child, Armani Lester, also died in the crash and is considered a victim, along with Ryan's 11-month-old son Alonzo Quintero and 24-year-old boyfriend, Reynold Lester of Los Angeles.

They were all in one car, traveling to a prenatal doctor's appointment for Ryan, relatives said.

Also killed in the crash were Nathesia Lewis, 43, and her friend, 38-year-old Lynette Noble, who were in another car.

Eight other people were injured.

Linton was hospitalized after the crash, but survived. She was brought into the downtown Los Angeles courtroom in a wheelchair.

Information in a filing by Linton's attorneys detail her four-year struggle with bipolar disorder and a determination by a doctor who treated her following the crash that "she has no recollection of the events that led to her collision," The Times reported.

One of Linton's attorneys, Halim Dhanidina, told the judge that a psychiatric care facility is prepared to admit his client.

The defense lawyer said he believes his client has been "singled out," noting that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office waited for months to file a case against a man who was charged with the less serious crime of vehicular manslaughter after his car struck and killed 10 people and injured 68 others at the Farmer's Market in Santa Monica in 2003.

The case against Linton was filed Aug. 8, four days after the crash.

Deputy District Attorney Antonella Nistorescu asked the judge to delay the bail hearing, saying she believed "it would be better for everyone to have as much information as possible about any alleged prior incidents involving mental health issues for Linton or any lapses in her taking medication.

The judge said she found "good cause" to postpone the hearing, but not for the three weeks requested by the prosecution. She noted that Linton's attorneys have not been able to have face-to-face contact with their client in jail due to flooding at the facility, saying "there has to be a way around that."

In their court filing, Linton's attorneys wrote that their client's mental health issues became apparent to her family in May 2018 when she ran out of her apartment during a panic attack. When police approached her, she jumped on a police car and was arrested for disorderly conduct, The Times reported.

A few days after that arrest, Linton told her family that she believed she was possessed by her dead grandmother, according to the defense filing.

The next day, at Ben Taub psychiatric hospital, Linton required stitches on her forehead after she banged her head into a glass partition while ranting about the police and the Supreme Court, the lawyers wrote. She sang a Bob Marley song as the medical staff treated her wound, the records say.

It was at Ben Taub that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prescribed psychiatric medication, the defense motion says.

More than a year later, Linton was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward after a neighbor called her family after seeing Linton running around her apartment complex naked, the attorneys said.

Linton's attorneys further reported her deteriorating mental health was exacerbated because she stopped taking psychiatric medication during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Times.

Linton began acting strangely, not sleeping and becoming obsessive about cleaning. She ranted at family members and accused them of stealing from her, her lawyers said.

"In the days and hours leading up to the events of August 4, Nicole's behavior became increasingly frightening," wrote her attorneys.

The day of the crash, Linton drove home from the hospital for lunch and FaceTimed her sister completely naked, according to the court papers.

She is set to be arraigned Oct. 26.

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