The suspect accused of intentionally running down eight people at a busy intersection in Sunnyvale is set to make his first court appearance Friday. 34-year-old Isaiah Peoples faces eight counts of attempted murder charges. Four victims remain in the hospital.
New court documents reveal the most seriously injured is a 13-year-old girl who is in a coma after suffering life-threatening injuries. Legal experts said the defense will likely focus on Peoples state of mind and his mental health.
Peoples is set to face a judge for the first time Friday and answer to charges he intended to strike eight pedestrians at El Camino Real and Sunnyvale Saratoga Tuesday night.
Just-released court documents reveal “witnesses described the vehicle traveling in the pedestrians' direction at a high rate of speed”and “the acceleration of the engine could be heard.”
Rishi Shukla said his car was directly in front of Peoples' car.
“I saw a car flying, a guy getting hit and the car landing here,” said Shukla.
Witnesses said Peoples was seen thanking Jesus at the time of his arrest. Family members claim the Iraq war veteran may have been suffering from PTSD.
“If they show that someone was in a psychiatric breakdown, they want to ascertain what was his state of mind at the time this event occurred,” said Legal Analyst Steven Clark.
Clark said the defense will likely request a psychiatric evaluation. Prosecutors will rely on forensic evidence from Peoples car and his computer.
“We still do not know what his motives were,” said Chief Phan Ngo of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety. “The only thing we can confirm as this time is on the day of the incident, he had picked up some food and was on his way to deliver the food to his bible study group.”
Police said Peoples, who worked for a contractor for the Department of the Defense, had no prior criminal history. The only weapon he possessed was an inoperable shotgun found in the trunk of his car.
New court documents also reveal the extent of the victims' injuries. The most serious being a 13-year-old girl in critical condition with brain swelling and a pelvic fracture. Three other victims suffered fractured or broken bones.
“I’m feeling really sad for those people especially the little girl,” said victim Miguel Balbuena. “It was a normal day for her.”
Balbuena was among those hit. He was able to walk away on crutches. He doesn't plan to see Peoples in court, explaining it would be too painful to relive the trauma.