SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Absadi Kidane was led into the court holding cell and said little as the judge read the charges against him.
Kidane is charged in the killing of 40-year-old Donald Thomas, who was paying for parking at the Santa Monica Courthouse when Kidane allegedly plowed his gray Camry into the victim.
Officials said Kidane tried to escape after a block-long rampage on Tuesday afternoon.
The routine arraignment took a turn as the judge decided to leave Kidane’s bond at $10 million – questioning whether it was possible Kidane’s actions were an act of terror.
“They found a passport that indicated Mr. Kidane had traveled on two occasions to the Middle East. Unknown countries… They found a lot of notebook paper with Arabic handwriting,” said the judge.
Detectives submitted court documents indicating they could not yet determine a motive although at the time of the crash, Kidane was believed to be under the influence.
If this act was committed intentionally – in other words was there something on the iphone or computers… to suggest the motivation for why he would drive in this manner. The other point is they talked about an act of terrorism,” said the judge.
Kidane’s attorney blasted investigators for suggesting Kidane was a terrorist.
“As to my client’s extensive international travel – there’s a very simple explanation for that. His mother has worked at American Airlines for the last 10 years,” said Ambrosio Rodriguez.
“It’s a real shame,’ Rodriguez said, “for the way the system is supposed to work. That someone is labeled a terrorist simply because of their name,” said Rodriguez.
Kidane’s attorney says his client is an American citizen – born to Christian parents from Ethiopia. He said he has some mental health issues and a drug problem but is no terrorist.
Just before the 21-year-old was led off, he waved to family in the courtroom.
A family friend said Thomas was at the courthouse, likely to file papers for a company he just started. Thomas was an entrepreneur. He also had three children, including a young son who is devastated by his father’s loss.