LAS VEGAS – A woman accused of intentionally plowing a car into a crowd of pedestrians on a Las Vegas Strip sidewalk had marijuana in her system, but prosecutors said that it’s unlikely she will be charged with driving under the influence.
Tests showed that Lakeisha Nicole Holloway, 24, had more than the Nevada legal limit of pot and its metabolic byproducts in her blood when she was arrested shortly after the Dec. 20 crash, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said on Wednesdsay.
However, he and prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo said the test results do not change the initial charges of murder, child endangerment and felony hit-and-run against Holloway.
"The amount of marijuana and marijuana metabolite does not appear to be enough to affect her mental state at the time of the crime," DiGiacomo said. "She intentionally drove into the crowd."
The 3.5 nanograms per millilitre of marijuana in Holloway’s blood were above the 2-nanogram limit in Nevada. The 23.6 nanograms per millilitre of marijuana metabolites in her system were above the 5-nanogram state limit.
Holloway’s court-appointed defence attorneys, Joseph Abood and Scott Coffee, said the amounts don’t prove that her driving was affected.
"If those levels are true, they are extremely low and they don’t indicate that she was impaired in any way," Abood said.
Coffee noted that the results undercut the findings of a police drug-recognition expert who examined Holloway after her arrest and reported that she appeared to be under the influence of a stimulant.
"It’s good to see the concerns about … some kind of stimulant weren’t borne out," Coffee said.
While the level of metabolite in Holloway’s system was above state limits, it was below a limit of 50 nanograms per millilitre set by the federal Department of Transportation for pilots, overland truckers and other interstate drivers, Coffee said.
Holloway is jailed on suicide watch pending a Jan. 20 court date.
The crash outside the Planet Hollywood and Paris Las Vegas resorts killed Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Arizona. Authorities said least 35 people from several states, Mexico and Canada were injured.
One person is still in critical condition Wednesday at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, hospital spokeswoman Danita Cohen said.
The child endangerment charge against Holloway stems from allegations that her 3-year-old daughter was in the car at the time of the crash. Child welfare officials have custody of the girl, who wasn’t injured.
Police say Holloway arrived in Las Vegas earlier this month from Portland, Oregon, and told investigators that she and her daughter had been living in the car that she parked at casinos.
Authorities said she may have been on her way to Texas to see the girl’s father at the time of the crash.
Holloway has made one court appearance and hasn’t been asked to enter a plea, but Abood and Coffee say they expect her to plead not guilty.
Prosecutors say they expect to file additional charges as police continue to interview witnesses, possibly including attempted murder.