A nurse charged with six counts of murder after her Mercedes-Benz slammed into traffic at a busy Windsor Hills intersection last month accelerated to 130 mph just before the crash, according to new court documents filed Friday.
The motion, filed by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office in response to claims by the nurse’s attorneys that she had lost consciousness before the collision, states that Nicole Linton “was conscious and deliberate in her driving.”
Authorities originally estimated Linton’s car was traveling 90 mph when it crashed into multiple vehicles at the intersection of La Brea and Slauson avenues shortly after 1:30 p.m. Aug. 4.
“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,” Friday’s court filing said.
Prosecutors said analysis of the Mercedes’ recorded data and surveillance video indicates that Linton had “complete control over steering, maintaining the tilt of the steering wheel to keep her car traveling directly toward the crowded intersection.”
“This NASCAR-worthy performance flies in the face of the notion that she was unconscious or incapacitated,” according to the filing.
Linton, 37, is charged with six counts of murder and five counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. One of the victims was Asherey Ryan, who was 8½ months pregnant. Prosecutors charged Linton with murder in the death of Ryan’s fetus.
The crash also killed Ryan’s nearly 1-year-old child, Alonzo Quintero, and her boyfriend, Reynold Lester, who were in the car with her.
Also killed were Nathesia Lewis, 43, and her friend Lynette Noble, 38.
Linton has been held in jail since the crash, with prosecutors alleging she is a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Her defense attorneys said in a previous filing that Linton‘s mental health was deteriorating before the crash.
“She has no recollection of the events that led to her collision,” Dr. William Winter wrote on Aug. 6. Winter treated Linton at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
“The next thing she recalled was lying on the pavement and seeing that her car was on fire,” he wrote.
The extent of Linton’s injuries from the crash were not included in the doctor’s report, but Winter mentioned “fractures” and Linton’s lawyers said she is using a wheelchair to move around jail.
Winter wrote that Linton has bipolar disorder and suffered an “apparent lapse of consciousness” at the time of the crash, according to her heavily redacted medical records.
Linton’s family became aware of her mental health issues in May 2018 when she was a nursing student at the University of Texas in Houston, her lawyers wrote. Her sister Camille Linton said in a letter to the court that Nicole Linton‘s studies to be a nurse anesthetist caused her first mental health breakdown.
“The stress was too much for her and it ‘broke’ her,” Camille Linton wrote. “Thus beginning the journey of Nicole’s 4-year struggle with mental illness.”
Linton ran out of her apartment in May 2018 during a panic attack, and when police approached her, she jumped on a police car and was arrested for disorderly conduct, her attorneys wrote.
Linton called her family from the police station and was concerned about the well-being of her pet turtle, according to her attorneys.
A few days after that arrest, Linton told her family that she believed she was possessed by her dead grandmother.
The next day, at Ben Taub psychiatric hospital, Linton required stitches on her forehead after she banged her head into a glass partition while ranting about the police and the Supreme Court, the lawyers wrote. She sang Bob Marley songs as the medical staff treated her wound, the records say.
It was at Ben Taub that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prescribed psychiatric medication, the defense motion says.
“In the days and hours leading up to the events of August 4, Nicole’s behavior became increasingly frightening,” her attorneys wrote.
Linton kept telling one of her sisters that her co-workers at the Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center were “acting weird,” her lawyers said. The day of the crash, Linton drove home from the hospital for lunch and FaceTimed her sister completely naked, according to the court papers.
She then went back to work, and called her sister at 1:24 p.m. saying she was leaving work again, just minutes before the crash.
“She told her sister that she was flying out to meet her in Houston the next day so she could do her niece’s hair. She also said that she would be getting married and that her sister should meet her at the altar,” the lawyers wrote.
In Friday’s filing, which opposed Linton’s bid for pretrial release or to have bail granted, prosecutors disputed defense attorneys’ assertions about Linton’s driving and medical histories.
Prosecutors said they obtained records detailing three prior speeding violations and two crashes caused by Linton “exhibiting an ongoing disregard for the safety of others on the road.”
“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.
To date, no documentation of a medical diagnosis has been filed with the court, according to prosecutors. Records reference prior diagnoses of bipolar disorder but don’t include any instances in which Linton suffered a loss of consciousness by seizure, epilepsy, syncope or other conditions, according to the filing.
The available medical records paint a picture of violent and aggressive behavior during past mental health episodes, and show that as early as May 2019, Linton “admitted that she refused to take her prescribed medications,” the prosecutors alleged.
Linton’s statements to officers after the crash contradict her claim that she could not remember the events that led up to it, prosecutors alleged.
“[Linton’s] insight into the circumstances of the crash is incredibly accurate and consistent with the evidence of her driving conduct,” according to the filing.
Prosecutors said she shared that she’d been stressed by work and by problems with one of her sisters, and that she hadn’t slept for four days before the crash.
“Defendant opined that the cause of her collision was her fatigue,” according to the filing. “In jail calls with her sister … days after, [Linton] acknowledged that she should not have gone to work on the day of the crash, stating, ‘five people are dead because of me.’”
Linton’s attorneys could not be reached for comment Friday night.