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Driver pleads not guilty in deadly I-5 protest crash as lawyers deny Kelete ‘motivated by anti-Black Lives Matter mentality’

The driver charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving after he crashed into a Black Lives Matter protest on I-5 on July 4th, killing one demonstrator, and badly injuring another pleaded not guilty to the crimes Wednesday morning as his legal defense said the 27-year-old has been unfairly portrayed in the media and that the crash was a terrible accident.

“The media and others have portrayed this incident as an intentional act that was motivated by anti-Black Lives Matter mentality,” lawyers from the Fury Duarte firm wrote in their unsuccessful bid to limit video and images of Wednesday’s hearing. “That’s incorrect.”

Dawit Kelete tested sober after he crashed into and killed 24-year-old Capitol Hill resident Summer Taylor and sent 32-year-old Diaz Love to the hospital with serious injuries after he sped onto a closed I-5 during a Seattle Black Lives Matter protest. Though he passed a sobriety and breathalyzer test, prosecutors say Kelete said would be suffering withdrawal to a painkiller and suffers from addiction when he was being admitted to the King County Jail.

Love continues to recover from the serious injuries suffered in the collision.

While Kelete’s legal team does not yet need to mount a defense of his actions, its unsuccessful effort to limit media coverage of his plea hearing revealed some direction in the case. “The Washington State Patrol claims to have closed some portions of I-5 between SR-520 to I-90,” his lawyers write. “Kelete entered the interstate in his vehicle and an unfortunate collision occurred causing two of the protesters to be struck.”

In the unsuccessful motion, Kelete’s lawyers say media coverage has threatened the safety of their client who has been placed in “protective custody housing” while he remains jailed on $1.2 million bail.

“The pre-trial prejudice in the instant case is palpable,” the motion reads.

Wednesday, several Seattle television stations broadcast video and images from the plea hearing.

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8 months ago

If you believe in justice, you should believe in a fair trial for all.