A woman who drove her vehicle into an Oklahoma State University homecoming parade accepted a plea deal and will spend the rest of her days in prison. The 26-year-old was scheduled to begin jury trial proceedings, Tuesday when she brought the case to an abrupt halt with her decision.
According to Tulsa World, Adacia Chambers pleaded no contest to the fatal October 2015 crash that killed four people and left more than 40 others injured in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The four people who lost their lives included a 23-year-old graduate student, two 65-year-old Oklahoma State University employees, and a 2-year-old boy.
In Oklahoma, a life sentence is considered to be 45 years. The state law requires that Chambers spend at least 85 percent of her life sentence. This is equivalent to 38 years and three months. What this entails is that Chambers will be 73-years-old when she is eligible for parole
BREAKING: Adacia Chambers has pleaded no contest to all charges and agreed to multiple life sentences. https://t.co/TW9SdzASkm
— O'Colly (@OColly) January 10, 2017
The 26-year-old’s plea deal means that she waived her right to trial but did not admit her guilt or disagree with what she had been charged with in court. Chambers explained that she took the deal because she wanted to avoid a lengthy trial and also said her prayers were with the victims of the October incident, adding that she wished she could turn back the hands of time.
” I accepted the plea because I don’t want to put the families through more pain. My prayers are with the victims. If I could, I would look them each in the eyes and say, ‘I’m sorry and forgive me.”’
District Judge Stephen Kistler revealed that Chamber’s plea deal meant that an admission of guilt could not be used against her in any lawsuit. Leo and Sharon Schmitz, a badly injured couple on that fateful day, had filed two separate court cases against her. Under the plea deal, Chambers will receive four life sentences in sync with four second-degree murder charges. The plea deal also includes 10-year sentences for 39 assault charges. Three counts were dropped because the victims could not be located.
OSU homecoming parade victims file lawsuit against Adacia Chambers https://t.co/xpRpQtgPLi
— KOKH FOX 25 (@OKCFOX) October 27, 2016
A police investigation revealed that Chambers wanted to be “free” and felt suicidal when she drove her car through traffic barricades, a police motorcycle, and parade spectators. The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation confirmed that Adacia had increased her speed from 54 mph to 59 mph in the few seconds before impact. Law enforcement officers had claimed that she was driving under the influence, but a blood test showed that her blood-alcohol concentration at the time of the crash was 0.01. This was 0.08 below the level a person in Oklahoma could be considered to be under the influence.
Chamber’s attorney, Tony Coleman, had painstakingly spent 15 months preparing for her trial and was going to have her plead not guilty by reason of insanity, according to the Daily Mail. Coleman’s reason was because a medical expert had diagnosed Adacia with bipolar disorder. Dr. Shawn Roberson was the expert witness named by the defense, and his mental assessment of Adacia Chambers was that she was suffering from “acute psychosis.”
He said her family agreed that her mental state was impaired. Adacia’s father, Floyd Chambers, corroborated the doctor’s story saying his daughter had been taken to multiple mental-health facilities only to be given the wrong diagnosis. The distraught father said he hoped no parent would ever find their child in such a predicament.
Adacia Chambers who drove into Oklahoma State University's homecoming parade takes plea deal
— News, Views, People. (@NVPeople) January 10, 2017
Doctor Roberson said he placed the 26-year-old on a cocktail of antipsychotic and antidepressant medications while she was in custody. According to him, this was what helped her to regain her sense and improve her articulation to the point where she understood the charges brought before her and could communicate with her attorney.
Coleman blamed America’s healthcare system for failing Chambers, adding that if she was provided with adequate health care for her mental illness, the tragedy could have been averted. District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas said the case was not about mental illness because the 26-year-old was sane when she committed the crime.
— Adrianna Iwasinski (@AIwasinski) January 11, 2017
“It’s offensive to equate criminal defendants and their actions with a mental illness. Most mentally ill people don’t commit crimes, so I find it really offensive to equate mentally ill people with criminal actions.”
[Featured Image by Sue Ogrocki/AP Images]