Vegas crash suspect tests positive for marijuana

Posted at 11:14 AM, Dec 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-30 19:53:27-05

A woman accused of intentionally plowing a car into a crowd of pedestrians on a Las Vegas Strip sidewalk had marijuana in her system at the time, but prosecutors said Wednesday it's unlikely she'll be charged with driving under the influence.

Tests showed that Lakeisha Nicole Holloway had more than the Nevada legal limit of pot and its metabolic byproducts in her blood when she was arrested shortly after the Dec. 20 crash, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said.

However, Wolfson and prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo said the test results didn't change the initial charges of murder, child endangerment and felony hit-and-run pending against Holloway.

"The amount of marijuana and marijuana metabolite does not appear to be enough to affect her mental state at the time of the crime," DiGiacomo said. "She intentionally drove into the crowd."

The 3.5 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana in Holloway's blood were above the 2-nanogram Nevada limit, and the 23.6 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolites in her system were above the 5-nanogram state limit.

Holloway's court-appointed defense attorneys, Joseph Abood and Scott Coffee, said the don't prove Holloway's driving was affected.

"If those levels are true, they are extremely low and they don't indicate that she was impaired in any way," Abood said.

Coffee noted also that the results undercut the findings of a police drug recognition expert who examined Holloway following her arrest and reported that she appeared to be under the influence of a stimulant.

"It's good to see the concerns about ... some kind of stimulant weren't borne out," Coffee said.

Coffee said that while the level of metabolite in Holloway's system was above state limits, it was below a 50 nanograms-per-milliliter limit set by the federal Department of Transportation for pilots, overland truckers and other interstate drivers.

Holloway remains jailed on suicide watch pending a Jan. 20 court date.

The crash outside the Planet Hollywood and Paris Las Vegas resorts killed Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Arizona. Authorities said least 35 people from several states, Mexico and Canada were injured.

One person remained in critical condition Wednesday at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, hospital spokeswoman Danita Cohen said.

The endangerment charge stems from allegations that Holloway had her 3-year-old daughter with her in the car at the time of the crash. The child was placed into custody of Clark County child protective services.

Police say Holloway arrived in Las Vegas earlier this month from Portland, Oregon, where she legally changed her name to Paris Paradise Morton. Her lawyers say she continues to use the name Holloway.

Investigators said she may have been on her way to Texas to see her daughter's father.

Holloway has made one court appearance and hasn't been asked to enter a plea, but Abood and Coffee say they expect she'll plead not guilty.

Wolfson and DiGiacomo said they expect additional charges will be filed as police continue to interview witnesses in the case -- possibly including attempted murder and battery with the car used as a deadly weapon.