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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Woman faces murder charges over Oklahoma parade crash

Adacia Chambers is facing four charges of second-degree murder (Stillwater Police Department/AP)
Adacia Chambers is facing four charges of second-degree murder (Stillwater Police Department/AP)

A woman accused of jumping a red light, driving over a police motorcycle and crashing into spectators at an Oklahoma university parade, killing four people, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Adacia Chambers, 25, of Stillwater, faces four murder charges, each carrying at least 10 years to life in prison, and 46 counts of felony assault - one for each of the injured, which included many children.

She has been in custody since the October 24 crash at the Oklahoma State University parade in Stillwater. A judge has also ordered psychiatric tests.

Chambers' lawyer Tony Coleman said tests performed by a forensic psychologist he retained, Shawn Roberson, indicated she suffered from bipolar disorder and was not competent to stand trial.

"She is severely mentally ill and in need of immediate psychiatric treatment," Mr Coleman said.

In Oklahoma, second-degree murder charges are warranted when someone acts in a way that is "imminently dangerous to another person", but does so without premeditation.

The parade was part of homecoming activities at the university - the tradition of welcoming back a school's alumni, which usually includes sports and cultural events and a parade.

Police initially suspected Chambers was driving under the influence of drugs when she crashed into the parade crowd, but Captain Kyle Gibbs of Stillwater police said the results of a blood test had not been returned.

"The suspicion was DUI drugs from the get-go, and we're awaiting the test results to see if those support that charge," he said. "Any DUI arrest is initially based on probable cause, based on observations of the driver, their actions, things like that."

Capt Gibbs said Chambers stopped talking to investigators shortly after her arrest and that it was still not known what may have prompted her to drive into the crowd.

"That's the 64,000-dollar question, is why," he said. "It's too soon to speculate about that."

Payne County district attorney Laura Thomas said in a statement last week that evidence suggested the incident "was an intentional act, not an accident". She would not elaborate on Wednesday on the charges.

Ms Thomas has formally requested a competency evaluation for Chambers and asked a judge to impose a gag order to prevent all parties involved in the case from speaking publicly.

Police also released audio recordings of police calls and radio traffic in the aftermath of the crash that depicted frantic callers asking for ambulances.

"We need everything we can get," an officer tells a dispatcher just after the crash.

In a 35-minute video of Chambers' booking recorded at the jail, she quietly answers a jailer's questions but appears to show little emotion. Several portions of the video are pixelated, including when Chambers is searched and when an officer appears to administer an alcohol breath test.

While she was being booked, Chambers told jail staff that she had a history of suicidal attempts and treatment for mental health issues and admitted feeling suicidal at the time of the crash, according to a probable cause affidavit signed by Stillwater police officer Kurt Merrill.

Mr Coleman said when he told Chambers about the deaths, "her face was blank". He said that he was not sure she was aware that she was in jail.

He previously said that while speaking with Chambers in jail after the crash, he "was not satisfied at all that I was communicating with a competent individual". He has said Chambers was at work before the crash and that she does not remember much, only that she felt confused as she was removed from the car.

Her father Floyd Chambers said previously that his daughter had received mental health treatment several years ago but nothing seemed amiss recently, except that his daughter had called and said she wanted to move back home.

The crash killed two-year-old Nash Lucas, Nikita Nakal, a 23-year-old MBA student from India at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, and married couple Bonnie and Marvin Stone, both 65, of Stillwater.

PA Media

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