Capital Murder Charges in SXSW Incident

Late on March 12, 2014, a drunk driver plowed into the crowd at the South by Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin Texas.  (CNN Report, Austin American-Statesman Report).

The Austin American-Statesman reports “Police Chief Art Acevedo said the man will face two charges of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault.”  This intrigued me.

So, I did some searching to see if I could figure out how this qualified as Capital Murder.  I was able to find the Texas Penal Code section on Capital Murder, and a summary on Wikipedia.  While I am not a lawyer, I think I’ve kind of figured out how this can be done.  Section 19.03(7)(A) states that if a person murders two or more people in the same “criminal transaction” the crime becomes Capital Murder.  I’m guessing that because two people were killed – so far, as others are in critical condition – and that the suspect was allegedly drunk and fleeing police at the time combine to make this two murders in the same criminal transaction.

Personally, I think this may be a good thing.  I’d like to see Texas go the whole way, and not just live with him getting life without possibility of parole.  On the other hand, trying to actually carry out a death sentence in this case might run into some extra hurdles due to the somewhat odd way the law is being applied.