2017 Times Square car attack verdict: Driver in attack that killed 1 and injured 20 found not responsible due to mental illness

The jury decided on Wednesday that Richard Rojas, 31, should not be held liable for a mental illness or defect and would not face the standard imprisonment for prosecution against him, the district attorney said. rice field.

Instead, the office said he would be unknowingly obliged to the psychiatric setting decided by the judge.

Rojas, a Bronx resident of the Navy, pushed his car into a crowd of pedestrians on May 18, 2017, at the bustling Times Square in Manhattan. Police said it was three blocks before the crash at the northwest corner of 45th Avenue.

Witnesses on the scene worked to detain him as he emerged from the destroyed vehicle. At the time, according to criminal accusations, he told the traffic agent, “I wanted to kill them all.”

Lojas tested positive for PCP and told police that God had made him do it, law enforcement sources told CNN at the time of the attack.
He was charged with the murder of 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman, who was murdered in a rampage, in addition to 20 attempted murders, one attempted murder in a vehicle, and a second attempted murder. Criminal accusation. He pleaded not guilty.

After the verdict was announced, Elsman’s mother questioned the jury’s decision.

“If this happened to any of the jury’s children, would they still say” not responsible “? “Jyll Elsman told CNN in a message on Wednesday. “Do they feel safe to live in the same area where Richard Rojas can return to the street?”

Alyssa was visiting the city with her family from Portage, Michigan that day. Her sister Ava was seriously injured, but she survived the incident.

CNN contacted Rojas’ lawyer for comment.

Immediately after the 2017 attack, city officials and law enforcement agencies said they were investigating the possibility that Rojas had a history of mental illness.

“We are now hearing from our family [that Rojas] It points to mental health problems dating back to childhood and was not addressed while in the U.S. military. “

He was arrested several times before the attack, including when he was in the Florida Navy in 2013. At that time, he pleaded guilty to drunk driving, failure to pay legitimate debt, drunk chaotic behavior and communication in front of a military judge. threat.

Lojas remains in custody and both parties are expected to consider the judge’s inquiry order at a hearing on Thursday.

“Thanks to the jury for their service. We continue to express our condolences to Alyssa Elsman’s family, friends, loved ones, and all the victims of this horrific incident, who suffered a terrible tragic loss. The detectives, analysts and staff are grateful for the hard work and dedication to this long case. “

Elizabeth Wolf of CNN contributed to this report.

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