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Man Who Drove Through Crowd At SXSW Music Festival Convicted

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo hugs another mourner at a 2014 prayer service following a deadly car crash at the South by Southwest festival. The driver who plowed into a crowd outside a music venue has been convicted of capital murder.

Rashad Owens was intoxicated when he drove his car through a crowd at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin last year. He killed four people and injured at least 20. Today, an Austin jury found him guilty of capital murder. The verdict means he will spend the rest of his life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

Owens was evading a police stop in the early morning of March 13, 2014, when he crashed through a barricade and drove his Honda through a street crowded with SXSW festival goers. He then fled his vehicle and attempted to get away on foot. Police officers subdued him with a stun gun.

Owens' defense attorneys did not dispute that he had struck and killed people, but argued he was not guilty of capital murder, because he had no intent to kill. "To be intent on causing somebody's death, you have to know that they are there," defense attorney Rickey Jones said in a closing statement. Jones said Owens hadn't had enough time to react when he saw the crowd.

Prosecutors countered that jurors should not focus on Owens' intent but rather whether he was aware his conduct could injure others.

Owens was an aspiring rapper and had been in Austin to perform at a club during the festival.

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