Nicole Linton case examines layers of grief

The conviction of the LA resident accused of killing six highlights the notion of cumulative grief


Photo courtesy of LA Times

Linton in a court appearance on August 8

Dylan Hamrock, News Writer

Thirty seven-year-old Nicole Linton was accused of killing six people while heading down a highway intersection at 130 mph, leading to Linton ramming into one of the victim’s car, which continued to make aim for the gas station nearby, causing a catastrophic fire on August 4. 

The deaths of six innocent people, and eventually causing the injuring of nine others, created an aggressive climate in the area of the incident (Los Angeles), and local states as well.The murders caused a social dilemma as the viewpoints physically and mentally split, each side separating into two opposing perspectives. 

Individuals siding with Linton include her lawyers and sympathizers. “Ms. Linton is an ill individual and should be put in a hospital,” said Halim Dhanidina, her attorney.

Many also believe that traumatic events from her life contributed to her unstable mental health and thus made her more likely to commit the murders without maliciousness.  

 “Nicole was different after [her boyfriend passed away],” an anonymous source from Daily Mail said. “She really loved that guy. She said they’d spoken about marriage. I don’t think she’s ever got over that, I wondered when I saw what had happened if she was trying to take her life the way her ex lost his.” 

The human interest in what people do, and why we are filled with curiosity, can possibly comment on mental health, and how we function when dealing with the shocking effects of death.

Georgetown Psychology speaks to “the distress of cumulative grief” and what makes extreme change in routine, or the death of multiple significant others, gives us such a negative perspective.

The word ‘heal’ here doesn’t mean that the grief disappears entirely. Instead, grief moves from an acute stage, when it is fresh and the hurt is sharp and distracting, to an integrated stage, when the grief quiets and softens,” according to the article. 

Relating to Linton’s case, there is a certain unrealistic standard, as this case’s situation seems extremely rare and not just a daily occurrence.

According to Georgetown, “Cumulative Grief is what happens when you do not have the time to process one loss before incurring another.” Connecting to the same definition, “No two losses share the same grieving rituals.”

The reason we have two closely tied sides in reasoning, where one is relating to the crime committed due to her mental health, while the other thinks there should be no repercussions. This ideation that the crime was committed by the fact of insanity, is what the opposing disbelieves.

“She killed my grandsons and my daughter. Why would you even defend her,” said the mother of Asherey Ryan, 23, (one of the victims) while leaving the courthouse

Furthermore, according to Noah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times journalist and attendee of Linton’s hearing, family members of the victims were clapping and cheering when they heard of the judge’s decision to keep Linton in prison, rather than a mental rehabilitation center.

A substantial number of people were standing with the result of years in prison, rather than reform via institutionalization, as the court judge and witnesses believed that she could be a “danger to others.” Due to the collected evidence that Linton had been purposefully not intaking her prescribed medication, purpose being, preventing her from experiencing manic episodes.

“Suggestion that she’s suffering a lack of consciousness, such as a seizure, while also maintaining control of a car moving at 130 miles per hour… defies logic,” said Dep. District Attorney, Antonella Nitorescu. 

But according to the Los Angeles Daily News, “[Linton’s attorney] had asked the judge to allow Linton to be released to a mental-health treatment facility and be electronically monitored, saying that the defendant wouldn’t be able to get up and leave.”

Amongst the opposing viewpoints concerning Linton’s face, the one constant is the effect the murders have on the victims’ families. Beginning with fear, and deception, and then a never ending spiral of depression, there’s not just one part to the grief both Linton and the victim’s faced.

“Grief is the painful experience of seeing the impossible happen (the black space) and building a new reality that accepts the loss you’ve experienced,” according to Georgetown Psychology.

Moving forward, the victims’ families have to deal with the loss of their loved ones as a result of Linton’s actions, who, overwhelmed by the effects of loss as well, sped through a highway intersection. 

Linton has been held behind bars since the court hearing. Six counts of murder has led to the prosecution’s search for prison rather than the defense attorney’s proposal of being institutionalized in a mental hospital.


CORRECTION: Linton was initially charged with five counts of murder and six counts of vehicular manslaughter. Additionally, Linton has not yet been sentenced but is facing prison time.