A 24-year-old woman, who drove into a crowd on a Las Vegas Strip sidewalk on Dec. 20 killing one person and injuring at least 35 others, had marijuana in her system, prosecutors said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press (AP). However, prosecutors added that it will be difficult to charge Lakeisha Nicole Holloway for driving under the influence due to the quantity of marijuana present.
Holloway drove into several people walking on a sidewalk while her three-year-old daughter was in the car with her.
The quantity of marijuana and its metabolic byproducts found in Holloway’s system after her arrest was more than the legal limit allowed in Nevada, AP reported, citing Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. However, he, along with prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo, said that the test results would not change the charges of murder, child endangerment and felony hit-and-run against her. They also added that the amount of marijuana was not enough to alter her mental state at the time.
"There is no reasonable explanation or excuse for the actions of this defendant," Wolfson said in a news release, according to CNN, adding: "The results of the toxicology test do not change the initial charges filed against Ms. Holloway."
Wolfson had said last week that the evidence against Holloway was “compelling.” He said: "It shows her traveling in traffic with many other cars and then, for whatever reason, making a right turn onto a sidewalk where there were many, many people walking, and her running over people and not stopping and continuing to drive," adding: "This went on for many, many feet, hundreds of yards, and it's quite compelling."
Meanwhile, DiGiacomo said, according to AP, "The amount of marijuana and marijuana metabolite does not appear to be enough to affect her mental state at the time of the crime," adding: "She intentionally drove into the crowd."
Holloway’s blood contained 3.5 nanograms per milimeter of marijuana, which was higher that the 2-nanogram limit in Nevada. Her system also showed 23.6 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolites while the state’s limit for that is 5-nanogram, AP reported.
"If those levels are true, they are extremely low and they don't indicate that she was impaired in any way," court-appointed defense attorney for Holloway Joseph Abood said, according to AP.
Last week, Abood requested for Holloway’s arraignment to be delayed until the investigation was complete. "Just because she's charged doesn't mean she's guilty," Abood said after her initial hearing on Dec. 23, according to CNN, adding: "There are all kinds of possibilities that we have to look into to make a determination of what happened here. It's just too early to tell."
Portland, Oregon-based Holloway was given a court date for Jan. 20 and put on a suicide watch. She has not been asked to make a plea yet, but Abood and Scott Coffee, another court-appointed attorney, said that she is expected to plead not guilty. Meanwhile, prosecutors said that they will look toward filing additional charges as police officials interview more witnesses in the case.
A report last week said that Holloway told the police that she was stressed after being turned away by security guards at parking lots, where she was trying to sleep with her daughter in the backseat. Authorities had said earlier that she claimed to have been on her way to find her daughter’s father at the time of the crash.