Lawyers for a California woman charged with six counts of murder after a fiery car crash say she was experiencing an ongoing mental health crisis since studying for and becoming a nurse.
Nicole Linton, 37, was driving at 90 mph before she crashed into multiple cars on August 4, police said, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
“Further analysis reveals that her speed at impact was in fact 130 mph and that she floored the gas pedal for at least the 5 seconds leading into the crash, going from 122 mph to 130 mph,” a court filing said.
Prosecutors said she killed six people in the crash, including a fetus inside a woman who was weeks from delivery. In addition to the six counts of murder, prosecutors charged Linton with five counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, The LA Times reported.
Linton’s lawyers, in court filings, said a medical professional who examined her after the crash said she “has no recollection of the events that led to her collision.”
“The next thing she recalled was lying on the pavement and seeing that her car was on fire,” the doctor said, adding that she experienced an “apparent lapse of consciousness.”
In other court filings, Linton’s attorneys said she’s been experiencing mental health crises long before the crash. In May 2018, for example, she had a mental health breakdown while she was in nursing school at the University of Texas in Houston, The LA Times reported.
“The stress was too much for her and it ‘broke’ her,” her sister, Camille Linton wrote in court filings. “Thus beginning the journey of Nicole’s 4-year struggle with mental illness.”
Prosecutors said Linton told them she had been stressed out due to a demanding job as a nurse and had not slept in days ahead of the crash.
Another time, she told family members that she believed her dead grandmother had possessed her. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at a psychiatric hospital, defense attorneys wrote in the filings.
But prosecutors disagreed with the assertion that Linton had been experiencing a mental health crisis, arguing that she was “conscious and deliberate in her driving.”
“In an attempt to paint what we now know was a horrific conscious act as an accident, the defense has conflated the possibility of defendant suffering a mental health episode prior to the crash with the now defunct notion of a loss of consciousness at the time of the crash,” prosecutors said.
Since the crash, Linton has remained in jail, The LA Times reported.