Driver charged in SXSW crash makes first appearance since arrest at Wednesday pretrial


Police block off the roads after the SXSW car accident on March 13. After the accident, service organizations have been left to decide how to distribute more than $180,000 in funds raised to assist victims and their families.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Rashad Charjuan Owens, the driver indicted in the South By Southwest crash in March, made his first public appearance since his arrest before the 147th District Court Judge Clifford Brown during a Wednesday pretrial.

Brown reset Owens’ next court appearance for July 8. Members of Owens’ family attending the Wednesday court appearance declined to comment.

In May, a Travis County grand jury indicted Owens on one count of capital murder, four counts of felony murder and 24 counts of aggravated assault, according to the district clerk’s office.

Police have previously confirmed Owens was driving while intoxicated as he fled police and drove a stolen car through a crowd of people on Red River Street on March 13. Capital murder charges were filed after Jamie West, 27, and Steven Craenmehr, 35, died at the scene. In the two weeks after the crash, Deandre Tatum, 18, and Sandy Le, 26, died.

Since his arrest, Owens has been in Travis County Jail with bail set at $5.5 million.

After the crash, Austin City Council approved a full-scale review of SXSW on March 27. As part of the review, the city has reached out to the community for feedback on how to improve the safety and security of the two-week festival.

A post-event survey conducted by the Austin Center for Events revealed that 49 percent of the 850 respondents attended SXSW events unregistered. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents also voted against the city working alongside the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to limit the amount of hours that alcohol is served during SXSW events.

Responses to the 19 questions asked by the survey concluded that traffic and transportation remains a top priority for city events.