The nurse facing murder charges for the fiery Los Angeles crash that killed five and an unborn child was in the midst of a “frightening” mental health crisis and may have lost consciousness at the time of the crash, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

The filings describe Nicole Linton’s four-year struggle with bipolar disorder and a determination by doctors that the nurse had an “apparent lapse of consciousness” at the time of the crash.

“Mental incapacitation and unconsciousness are, of course, complete defenses to crimes under California law,” Linton’s attorneys note.

Linton, a 37-year-old traveling nurse from Houston, Texas, is accused of traveling nearly 90mph when the car she was driving blew through a stoplight on Aug. 4 and struck at least five other cars, setting at least three on fire.

Asherey Ryan, who was pregnant, died in the crash, as did her 11-month-old son Allonzo, and her boyfriend Reynold Lester. The family was reportedly heading to a prenatal checkup at the time of the collision.

The filings do not go into great detail regarding Linton’s struggles with bipolar disorder, save to dispute a prosecutorial claim that she had a history of “jumping on police cars” and “jumping out of windows.”

an image of Nicole Linton in court.
Nicole Linton in a LA courtroom while she faces the murder charges stemming from the fatal traffic incident.
AP

The defense argued each of these happened only once, and — with an attached affidavit from Linton’s sister describing a 2019 manic episode — said the window in question was on the ground floor.

Linton’s defense also pushed back on early reports that Linton had had a long history of motor vehicle accidents and a claim by prosecutors that Linton had totaled two cars in a 2020 crash.

Her attorneys Wednesday said those reports were false.

“A fifty-state comprehensive search of insurance records reveals that Ms. Linton has no such history,” Linton’s lawyers wrote. “In fact, Ms. Linton was determined to be at fault in only three prior collisions, the most recent of which occurring in 2014.”

“As for the 2020 collision offered to the Court in support of preventive detention, the claim against Ms. Linton was effectively withdrawn, being settled for $0,” the attorneys continued. “Photos of the damage to the so-called ‘totaled’ vehicles involved are not the least bit indicative of speeding or reckless driving.”

Police and firefighters at the scene of the car crash.
The car crash involving Nicole Linton killed five people, including an unborn child.

Police and firefighters at the scene of the car crash.
LA police and other officials investigating the scene where the fatal car crash occurred.

A truck picking up broken car pieces after the crash.
Linton’s defense pushed back reports saying that she had a long history of motor vehicle accidents.

The filing, in advance of an expected Wednesday hearing, seeks to have Linton released to the custody of a mental health facility.

“Specifically, Ms. Linton would be most appropriately housed in a mental health treatment facility where she can be monitored and treated for her illness under conditions that would significantly mitigate any risk to the public and the integrity of the proceedings before the Court,” her attorneys wrote. “She has no criminal record and no history of reckless driving, harming others, or disobeying court orders.”

Additional reporting by Marjorie Hernandez



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