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No Trial Expected in OSU Homecoming Crash Case

09-Jan-2017

The case of Adacia Avery Chambers, the driver who plowed her car into a crowd at the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade in October 2015, was scheduled to go to trial tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. However, a local newspaper reports that the trial will likely not happen after all. Instead, the case is expected to be resolved by plea agreement.

Chambers, 26, is charged with four counts of second degree murder and 42 counts of assault and battery by force or means likely to produce death. Her actions in driving her car into the crowd injured dozens of parade-goers and killed four, including a retired OSU professor and his wife, a University of Central Oklahoma graduate student, and the 2-year-old son of an OSU student.

Immediately after the accident, Chambers was arrested on complaints of DUI; however, she was soon found not to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Instead, she appeared to be suffering from mental illness. One witness says the woman told him, she "wanted to be free," indicating that she may have been suicidal at the time of the crash.

Chambers's defense attorney has cited mental illness from the beginning of the case, and he indicated that he intended to raise the issue--and possibly use the insanity defense in the case.

Initially, Chambers was ruled mentally incompetent and was sent to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita for treatment. By December 2015, she was determined competent to assist in her own defense. However, her competency at this time does not mean that she was not legally insane at the time of the crash.

For this case to be resolved without trial, one of two things may happen: Chambers may plead guilty to some or all of the charges as part of a plea agreement, or prosecutors may agree that the woman was insane at the time of the crash and accept a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. If prosecutors and the judge accept the insanity plea, Chambers would be returned to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita for treatment, rather than sent to a traditional state prison.

Some states have changed "not guilty by reason of insanity" to "guilty but insane," a very important distinction. When a person is "not guilty by reason of insanity," he or she is sent to a state mental health facility and may be released if a psychiatrist determines that he or she is no longer insane and no longer a threat to self or others. In states where a person is convicted as "guilty but insane," he or she begins the sentence in a state mental health facility. If, at any time, the person is determined to have sanity restored, then he or she is sent to prison to finish the sentence.

Read more about the insanity defense in Oklahoma.



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