Nurse charged with six counts of murder for fiery LA crash was experiencing mental health crisis, lawyers say

Attorneys representing a nurse facing murder charges for allegedly driving her Mercedes-Benz into traffic in Los Angeles County – killing five people – say she was apparently experiencing a "frightening" mental health leading up to and during the incident.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Nicole Linton's attorneys have laid out the most comprehensive narrative of the deadly event to this date in a recent court filing.

She is accused of speeding in her car down La Brea Avenue on 4 August. She allegedly drove into a busy intersection at around 90mph (144kph), and smashed into passing cars. The traffic light had been red for nine seconds when she allegedly drove into the intersection

The crash ultimate killed five people, including a pregnant woman. She has been charged with six counts of murder, including the pregnant woman's unborn child and a one-year-old child.

The filing details Ms Linton's four-year battle with bipolar disorder and includes a report from doctors that examined her immediately after the event claiming that she suffered from an "apparent lapse of consciousness" at the time of the crash.

Ms Linton has been held in jail since the crash. Prosecutors claim she is a flight risk and a danger to the community and said in a court filing that she is suffering from deteriorating mental health issues.

William Winter, a doctor at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre who examined Ms Linton, said she had "no recollection of the events that led to her collision."

“The next thing she recalled was lying on the pavement and seeing that her car was on fire,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Ms Linton's family learned of her mental health issues as far back as May 2018. Her sister sent a letter to the court claiming she had her first mental health episode while she was studying to become a nurse anesthetist.

“The stress was too much for her and it ‘broke’ her,” her sister, Camille Linton wrote. “Thus beginning the journey of Nicole’s 4-year struggle with mental illness.”

During that incident she reportedly ran out of her home and leapt onto a police car, which resulted in a disorderly conduct arrest.

A few days later she told her family that she believed she had been possessed by her dead grandmother.

During her stay at Ben Taub psychiatric hospital, Ms Linton reportedly banged her head on a glass partition and ranted about police and the Supreme Court. Her head needed stitches and she reportedly sang Bob Marley songs while she was being treated.

Her attorneys said her behaviour became "increasingly frightening" in the days leading up to the deadly crash.

On the day of the crash, Ms Linton called her sister over FaceTime and spoke to her completely naked, court records said.

“She told her sister that she was flying out to meet her in Houston the next day so she could do her niece’s hair. She also said that she would be getting married and that her sister should meet her at the altar,” the attorneys wrote.

Shortly after, Ms Linton allegedly drove her car into traffic.

While Ms Linton's attorneys are arguing for her to be released on bail, District Attorney George Gascon told The Los Angeles Times that he would allow prosecutors to request "preventative detention."

“The safety and well being of the residents of Los Angeles are our primary concern,” he said. “Under my policy, preventative detention can be requested under a case-specific analysis to protect public safety and to reasonably ensure the defendant’s return to court.”