Driver in deadly Times Square attack found not responsible due to mental illness
A father whose daughter was killed in the attack slammed the verdict
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
The man who drove his car through pedestrian-packed Times Square, killing one teenage tourist and injuring 22 others, was found not responsible on Wednesday after he used the insanity defense.
Richard Rojas, a 31-year-old Navy veteran, will avoid prison time and likely be sent to a mental institution instead, The New York Post reported.
The Manhattan jury deliberated for six hours before issuing the verdict of "not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect" on 23 counts of assault and one murder charge.
Prosecutors said that after Rojas crashed, he told authorities that he "wanted to kill them all." He also admitted to law enforcement that he smoked marijuana with PCP before driving three blocks on the crowded sidewalk on May 18, 2017.
Thomas Elsman, whose 18-year-old daughter Alyssa Elsman was killed in the attack, told the Post: "I think it’s bulls—t."
His other daughter, who was 13 at the time, also sustained injuries.
"You killed my daughter and my other daughter has scars for the rest of her life, let alone she doesn’t have her sister with her so that’s it, that’s it," Elsman said.
Rojas, who was kicked out of the Navy following a 2012 arrest in connection to a violent attack, has been reportedly diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The successful use of the insanity defense is rare. It is used in about 1% of all criminal cases and is only successful 25% of the time, Psychology Today reported.