Amended Charges Filed in OSU Homecoming Parade Crash Case29-Feb-2016
When Adacia Avery Chambers, 25, drove her car into a crowd of spectators at the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade, Oklahomans were shocked and stunned. The act left four people dead, including a two-year-old boy, and it injured dozens of others.
Immediately, we began to ask what could have caused such a horrible tragedy. Was it an accident? Was the driver drunk? Did she suffer a medical event? Was it an intentional act? If intentional, was it an act of terrorism? Was the driver mentally ill?
Answers have been slow in coming. Initially, Stillwater police arrested Chambers on a complaint of DUI, but lab tests indicated that she was not impaired by drugs or alcohol. Police say that she said she was suicidal at the time of the crash, and her attorney pointed to a history of mental illness. He argued that she was mentally incompetent to stand trial. A judge, however, ruled that Chambers was competent to understand the charges against her and assist in her own defense.
Now, those charges have changed.
When Payne County District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas announced that she would be filing amended charges, she initially told the court that she would likely add about a dozen charges, citing the discovery of more victims. Instead, the amended charges include the deletion of four counts of assault and battery and the addition of several witnesses. Currently, there are more than 100 witnesses for the prosecution, and Thomas says that more will likely be added in the coming days.
On April 7, the preliminary hearing for Chambers is set to begin. Prosecutors initially said they would call approximately 70 witnesses over the course of five days, but with the addition of more witnesses, even more could be called to testify at the preliminary hearing.
A preliminary hearing is not a trial. Instead, it is a time for prosecutors to attempt to present sufficient evidence to necessitate a trial. If a judge deems there to be enough evidence to support a trial, a trial will be set at a future date.
Chambers is charged with four counts of second degree murder and 42 counts of assault and battery by means or force likely to produce death.
Assault and battery by means or force likely to produce death is a violent felony punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Each count of second degree murder is punishable by 10 years to life in prison.
Both assault and battery by means or force likely to produce death and second degree murder are 85 percent crimes. Anyone convicted of these crimes must serve 85 percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole. If a person is sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole, the life term is calculated at 45 years for parole purposes. A person sentenced to life in prison would be required to serve more than 38 years before obtaining parole eligibility.
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