Times Square rampage driver found "not responsible" for 2017 attack

New York, New York - A Navy veteran who drove his car into Times Square pedestrians in 2017 was "not responsible" for the attack that killed an 18-year-old tourist and injured 22 others, a jury ruled Wednesday.

Daniel Rojas appears in the Manhattan Supreme Court in 2017.
Daniel Rojas appears in the Manhattan Supreme Court in 2017.  © REUTERS

Richard Rojas (31) was found "not responsible by reason of mental defect" of second-degree murder and 23 other counts for the May 2017 carnage. The Bronx man, who suffers from schizophrenia, will be admitted to a psychiatric facility.

Rojas was taken back into custody following the verdict. Justice Daniel Conviser said he will undergo a psychiatric examination before being institutionalized.

The jury only deliberated for about one day before reaching its verdict.

Rojas’ lawyers had argued he "lost his mind" behind the wheel of his Honda Accord, plowing the car through three blocks of crowded Times Square sidewalks on May 18, 2017. The jury heard from a Weill-Cornell psychiatrist who said Rojas’ psychosis had affected his ability to perceive reality.

An 18-year-old tourist from Michigan, Alyssa Elsman, was killed in the tragedy. Her little sister testified about watching her die, while her father told the New York Post that he thought the defense was "trying to make up stories and he was on drugs."

"He knew what he was doing, he knew what he did," Thomas Elsman insisted.

Prosecutors said Rojas told a traffic cop after the attack that he "wanted to kill them all."

Cover photo: REUTERS

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