‘Get my turtles!’ Lawyer obtains video showing prior psychotic episode of traveling nurse accused of high-speed fiery wreck that killed 6, including pregnant woman
By Jason Kandel,2023-05-27
A traveling nurse accused of a high-speed fiery wreck that killed six people, including an 8-month pregnant woman, was seen in police body camera footage jumping on a patrol car and sitting in the back of a squad car, delusional while police try to figure out how to handle her during an arrest in Houston in 2018 after a psychotic episode, her attorney told Law&Crime.
The video captures Nicole Linton in the back of a police car yelling, “Get my turtles!” talking to people who aren’t there, asserting Bob Marley was her father and saying she has family in Jamaica before officers play the late Jamaican reggae star’s music for her and she calms down and cries while they escort her to the police station, said her lawyer Jacqueline Sparagna.
Sparagna said the footage shows Linton suffers from severe mental health issues “such that she did not consciously disregard human life in the car accident in this case.”
Linton is accused of driving at 140 mph in Los Angeles on La Brea Boulevard on Aug. 4, 2022, and crashing into several vehicles, causing a fire and killing pregnant Asherey Ryan, 23, her 11-month-old son Allonzo, and her boyfriend, Reynold Lester. Two other women in another vehicle were also killed.
Six other vehicles were also involved in the collision, including five people with minor injuries in an SUV and another driver in another vehicle, prosecutors said. Linton has pleaded not guilty to six counts of murder and five counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, prosecutors said .Related Coverage:
Sparagna let Law&Crime hear portions of the audio from the Houston incident but did not release the videos, saying it’s part of the defense strategy.
Linton was arrested for criminal mischief for jumping on the police car, Sparagna said. The case was ultimately dismissed and expunged.
An email Friday to the Houston Police Department seeking information about the May 6, 2018, arrest was not returned.
The news came after a judge on Thursday granted a defense motion to vacate an order that allowed a court-appointed government mental health expert to interview Linton in jail, allegedly without her lawyers’ knowledge or consent as her lawyers prepare a mental health defense. Sparagna said she became aware of that interview two days later and is pleased the court granted the motion to vacate what she called the People’s “unlawful expert appointment order.”
Prosecutors argued the court properly exercised its authority to appoint Dr. Robert Schug, a psychologist, to evaluate Linton.
“The judge found nothing improper in the prosecution’s seeking of an order to allow our expert to examine the defendant and simply invited the prosecution to file their request under a different code section,” said Greg Risling, a spokesman for Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, in a statement to Law&Crime.
Newly released court documents said Schug met with Linton for an initial one-hour informal interview on April 21. Schug said he discussed her family history, took about three-quarters of a page of notes, and did not administer any tests, court documents said.
Deputy District Attorney Brittany Vannoy said she did not anticipate Schug would seek to interview the defendant before receiving and reviewing all of the discovery, court documents stated.
“I did not tell Dr. Schug to obtain a statement from Defendant Linton without her counsel’s knowledge,” Vannoy said, according to court documents. “On Saturday, April 22, 2023, I learned Dr. Schug had conducted an interview of Defendant Linton on April 21, 2023, and it was at this point I realized I had not sent the appointment order to the defense.”
Linton’s attorneys believe she suffered an epileptic seizure during the fatal crash near downtown Los Angeles. Information about Linton’s 2018 arrest in Houston came out in court documents that included a report by Dr. David Millett, a neurologist specializing in epilepsy and seizures hired by her defense.
In his report about the Houston incident, Millett described how he believed Linton was in “a strange dream-like state,” followed by the onset of “perceptual disturbance, disordered thinking and bizarre behavior” while stopped at a restaurant.
“She then ran out of the restaurant across several lanes of traffic, stopped in front of a moving police car, made facial gestures at the officer behind the wheel before jumping on the hood and then up and down on the roof of the patrol car,” Millett’s report stated.
Millett said that before the 2022 deadly crash crash, Linton had not undergone standard testing for seizures or epilepsy, but he noted Linton’s major psychotic episode in 2018, a second alleged episode in 2019, and the crash share similar features.
Millett also cited friends and associates reporting previous seizure-like behaviors from Linton.
“Do these normal studies exclude the possibility that Ms. Linton suffered a series of provoked seizures or even suffers from a form of focal epilepsy? The answer is no,” he wrote in court documents. “Detailed description of these events along with a variety of other seizure-like behaviors reported by friends and associates suggests that these events resulted from focal, frontal lobe seizures provoked by prolonged periods of sleep-deprivation.”
Millett said in his report Linton is “amnestic for (i.e. has no memory of)” the crash.
“Ms. Linton has been entirely consistent over time and in the context of different interviews with police and medical staff, including myself in reporting that she lost consciousness while driving prior to approaching the accident site and regained memory after she had exited the car sitting/lying on the sidewalk,” he wrote. “The most compelling explanation for this abrupt loss of consciousness, including loss of both memory and awareness of her immediate circumstances for a matter of only minutes, is that Ms. Linton experienced a seizure.
Police have not released reports detailing what Linton told them following the crash.
“There is absolutely no indication or suggestion of volitional intent to harm herself or others on the day of the accident,” Millett continued. “Although Ms. Linton was psychologically affected by ongoing stressors in the hospital workplace, she reports a stream of pleasant thoughts and communicating with her sister about an upcoming vacation to Hawaii immediately prior to her loss of consciousness.”
Millett said Linton reported severe insomnia for four consecutive nights before the crash after a “prolonged period of stability in terms of her mental health,” during which she was not taking any psychotropic medication and was not in therapy or psychological counseling.Sign up for the Law&Crime Daily Newsletter for more breaking news and updates
Millett wrote that Linton reported increasing difficulty performing her nursing duties over the days leading up to the crash.
“On the morning of the accident, she describes inability to complete her nursing responsibilities accurately and/or in a timely fashion,” he wrote. “She became very anxious that morning as she fell behind in her duties, compounded with the stressors of caring for patients with physically unsettling medical problems and ongoing tensions with her co-workers.
“For minutes – hours prior to her loss of consciousness and the accident, Ms. Linton describes a dream-like state in which she was unable to distinguish reality from imagination, with cartoon-like visual hallucinations and intense, overwhelming emotions,” Millett wrote.
Linton is being held without bail at the Los Angeles County Jail. Her next hearing is scheduled for July 6.
The post ‘Get my turtles!’ Lawyer obtains video showing prior psychotic episode of traveling nurse accused of high-speed fiery wreck that killed 6, including pregnant woman first appeared on Law & Crime .