The murder and assault trial of Adacia Avery Chambers, the driver who plowed her car into spectators at the OSU homecoming parade, was expected to begin on Tuesday of this week. Instead, the case was resolved prior to trial when the young woman entered a plea of no contest to the charges against her.
As part of a plea agreement, Chambers pleaded guilty to four counts of second degree murder and 39 counts of assault and battery by force or means as likely to produce death. Three additional assault charges were dismissed under the terms of the plea agreement.
In exchange for her plea, Chambers will receive a life sentence for each of the four deaths resulting from her actions in October 2015. Each of the life sentences is to run concurrently.
Additionally, Chambers is sentenced to 10 years in prison for each of the 39 assault charges; she faced the possibility of life in prison on each of those counts as well. The assault sentences are to run concurrently with each other, but consecutively to the life sentences. Effectively, the 26-year-old woman is sentenced to life plus 10 years in prison. Under the 85 Percent Rule, she would not become eligible for parole until she is in her 70s.
Until entering the plea agreement, Chambers's attorney maintained that he intended to use the woman's history of mental illness in her defense, and possibly argue that she was legally insane at the time of the crash. If a judge or jury accepts the insanity defense, the defendant is committed to the state mental health facility in Vinita, Oklahoma, until such a time his or her sanity is determined to be restored and he or she is no longer a threat to the general public.
Chambers was initially found to be mentally incompetent to assist in her own defense, but competency was restored after a few months of treatment at the Oklahoma Forensic Center.
Some states use the term "not guilty by reason of insanity," but others have begun finding defendants "guilty but insane" in the insanity defense. The distinction is important: if a person is not guilty by reason of insanity, he or she is committed to a mental institution. If sanity is restored, he or she may be released from the facility having never been convicted of a crime. If a person is guilty but insane, on the other hand, he or she is likewise committed to a mental health facility, but if sanity is restored, the person is released to prison to complete the sentence, and will remain a convicted felon.
Image credit: Payne County Jail