Murder trial set for woman accused of driving into Vegas Strip pedestrians
By Ken Ritter ASSOCIATED PRESS,2023-06-08
A Nevada judge on Thursday scheduled a murder trial for next year for a woman who has spent more than seven years in state psychiatric care after she was accused of intentionally plowing a car into pedestrians, killing one, on the Las Vegas Strip.
Paris Paradise Morton said nothing in court as she learned she’ll stand trial in May 2024 on murder and 70 other felony charges in the crash that killed an Arizona woman and injured dozens of other people a few days before Christmas 2015.
Morton remains jailed without bail. Last month, she rejected a plea bargain that would have avoided trial and sent her to prison with the possibility of parole, and told a judge she was at odds with her court-appointed lawyers. The length of her sentence offer was not disclosed. She could face life in prison if she is convicted at trial.
Deputy Clark County Public Defender Anna Clark continued to represent Morton on Thursday. Clark declined outside court to comment about the case but said she and attorney Scott Coffee are still handling Morton’s defense.
Morton, now 32, has been prosecuted as Lakeisha Nicole Holloway, the name she gave to authorities when she surrendered following the crash. She had legally changed her name weeks earlier, from Holloway to Morton.
Jessica Valenzuela, 32, a tourist from Buckeye, Arizona, was killed and authorities said at least 35 tourists from California, Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington state, Mexico and Canada were injured when the car plowed through a crowd on a sidewalk near the Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood resorts.
Picket-like vehicle barriers called bollards now line Las Vegas Boulevard to protect pedestrians.
Morton’s daughter, who was 3 years old at the time, was with her in the car. Coffee has said Morton no longer has custody of the child. Authorities previously said the girl’s father lived in Texas.
Morton was from Portland, Oregon, and traveled through several cities in the U.S. and Canada before arriving in Las Vegas a few days before the crash. She told police she and her daughter had been living in the car and had been repeatedly ushered by security officers out of casino parking areas.