AUSTIN (KXAN) — The jury for the trial of Rashad Owens has been seated after just one day of jury selection. The trial is scheduled to start November 2.
Rashad Owens is charged with capital murder and 24 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, after driving his car through a crowd of people at South by Southwest. Police say he drove drunk through barricades on Red River Street and plowed into a crowd of people killing four and injuring more than 20 others in March of 2014.
Throughout the week, each day 75 potential jurors will be reviewed. By the end of the week jury selection with be decided from a pool of 300. The juror questionnaire asks prospective jurors if they know anyone injured in or otherwise involved in the SXSW crash or if they have viewed media reports.
As attorneys questioned the prospective jurors, some said they would have a difficult time remaining impartial due to being personally affected by drunk driving crashes in their lifetime. Others showed concerns with the mandatory sentence of life in prison with no parole if they were to convict Owens of Capital Murder. Although it is a Capital Murder case, the state is not seeking the death penalty. If the jury determines the elements of Capital Murder do not exist, they can still chose to convict Owens on 1st Degree Murder and sentence him between 5-99 years.
Officers on DUI patrol that night originally tried to stop Owens because the car he was driving did not have its headlights on. Owens told officers he saw the lights in his mirror that night and got scared because he had warrants out for his arrest and did not want to go to jail.
Owens agreed to a breath test and police say it showed his blood-alcohol content as .114. In Texas legal terms, .08 is considered the point of intoxication at which a person is no longer fit to drive.
In September, Owens appeared in court to formally plead not guilty. His attorney says he has shown remorse for the crash.
The trial is scheduled to start Nov. 2.,
KXAN’s Chris Sadeghi is in the courtroom and at 5 p.m. he’ll have an update on how the jury process will unfold over the next few days.