A jury has ruled that the man who plowed through a crowd of pedestrians in Times Square, leaving one person dead and more than 20 others injured, is not responsible for the deadly 2017 attack due to mental illness.
Richard Rojas was on trial for one count of murder and 23 assault charges. His defense team argued that he had schizophrenia and did not know what he was doing when he drove his car through a crowd of people.
While he was not convicted and will avoid a lengthy prison sentence, Judge Daniel Conviser said that the jury’s decision means that Rojas could qualify for “involuntary mental commitment.” Conviser ordered the Rojas remain in custody while he drafts an order for a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether Rojas will be committed to a mental institution.
“We are grateful to the jury for its service,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement following the verdict. “Our condolences continue to be with the family, friends, and loved ones of Alyssa Elsman, who suffered a terrible and tragic loss and all of the victims of this horrific incident. I thank the prosecutors, detectives, analysts, and staff members for their hard work and dedication on this long case.”