The relatives of a young family instantly killed when traveling nurse Nicole Linton slammed her Mercedes-Benz into their vehicle are speaking out against a website made by her family illuminating the driver’s mental illness and lobbying for lighter charges.
Court documents show that prosecutors say Linton “floored the gas pedal for at least the 5 seconds leading into the crash, going from 122 mph to 130 mph” before barreling into traffic in an intersection in the Los Angeles suburb of Windsor Hills, causing two other cars to explode. Asherey Ryan and her boyfriend Armani Lester were on their way to a prenatal appointment with Ryan’s 11-month-old son, Alonzo Quintero, in the backseat. The family, including an unborn baby and two other women, were killed.
Linton’s family launched a website around Sept. 19 with six pages dedicated to her life story, journey with mental illness, and how it connects to the crash. It is plastered with pictures of Nicole and her family. One of the pages outlines the difference between murder and vehicular manslaughter. Linton is awaiting trial for murder and gross vehicular manslaughter in a psychiatric facility. Her lawyer and family claim she was in the middle of a bipolar episode when she sped through the light.
Ryan, Lester and Quintero’s family members said the website is “insensitive and ill-timed.”
“We’re still struggling to grasp the magnitude of our loss. Every day has been emotionally hard. The hurt we’ve had to endure from the website seems quite intentional and we strongly oppose it,” Deandra Kittles said in a statement. “We will continue to get through this trying time as a family, and we will continue to seek Justice for Asherey, Armani and Alonzo. We hope that the other families affected will do the same.”
The website created by Nicole’s sister Camille Linton features a letter to “all those affected” on the landing page. Camille said the Aug. 4 crash was a “tragedy all-around.” She sent her “deepest condolences to all those who lost a loved one” and acknowledged their pain.
“And even though we as a family have been steadfastly supporting Nicole, who we love dearly, there is room in our hearts for the victims that have been most directly affected in this case,” Camille wrote.
Camille wrote that she understands that the victims’ families are “rightfully angry, frustrated, and fearful.” Still, she can relate to families like hers who are also frustrated and fearful and hopeless because of a family member’s mental illness.
Nicole’s defense attorney alleges that she had “an “apparent lapse of consciousness” at the time of the crash. Prosecutors contend that the act was deliberate, and Nicole had control of the steering wheel, which she held steady as she flew through the intersection.
Her family and attorneys said that the intensive care nurse was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2018. They detailed various mantic episodes the family witnessed in the years, months and days leading up to the incident. However, in a recent motion disputing a request to place the driver in a health facility instead of keeping her in jail, prosecutors said the lawyers had not submitted medical evidence of her current diagnosis to the court.
Camille said she learned recently that her sister went into a catatonic state after her first erratic outburst that led to an encounter with police in Texas.
“Suddenly, it was as if the lights went off and she’s there but it appeared as if she couldn’t hear or interact with anybody around her,” the driver’s sister wrote. “The doctor that is currently evaluating her believes that these symptoms may indicate frontal lobe epilepsy, which often lasts around 30 seconds and can cause stiffness in the body and loss of awareness. It is usually followed by amnesia where the person doesn’t remember blacking out.”
Nicole’s family hopes the court will allow her to be tested for neurological and psychiatric conditions that could cause those symptoms.
“This particular type of epilepsy is oftentimes missed by doctors because many of the symptoms can also indicate psychiatric problems. If she does have a neurological condition on top of or instead of her bipolar disorder, we want to be able to test for it so she can be treated appropriately and so we can better understand what happened on August 4th,” Camille wrote.