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Peoples Pleads “Not Guilty,” Claims Mental Illness, PTSD Contributed to Sunnyvale Crash

The man accused of driving his car into a group of pedestrians in Sunnyvale on April 23, 2019 has pleaded “not guilty.” Isaiah Peoples’ lawyer entered the plea on behalf of his client on July 16.

According to the Mercury News,  Peoples’ lawyer believes that his client suffers from mental illness and PTSD. Lawyer Chuck Smith believes that the psychiatric evaluation will prove this.

Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Carlos Vega disagrees.

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“Mr. Peoples has the right to any and all legal defenses, but we’re confident the evidence will show otherwise,” Vega told the Silicon Valley Voice.

The court will appoint a doctor to determine if any mental illness or PTSD played a role in the crash.

Police say eight people were injured when Peoples deliberately drove his car into a crowd of people who were in the crosswalk at the intersection of El Camino Real and Sunnyvale Avenue. Seven people were hit by the car and another person was injured while getting out of the way. The most seriously injured was a 13-year-old girl who spent weeks in a coma.

Her family is one of several that have filed suit against Peoples since the crash. They say her injuries will require lifelong care.

Prosecutors have charged Peoples with eight counts of attempted murder including two with enhanced hate crime charges. They believe that Peoples targeted the group of pedestrians because he thought two of them were Muslim or Indian.

Peoples is an Army veteran who served from 2004-2006. He was honorably discharged and spent two more years in the Army Reserves.

Peoples is expected to return to court in early September.

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