BMW driver accused of killing 4 Pepperdine students out on $4-million bond

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18, 2023 - Sheriff deputies monitor the scene where four women were killed in a multi-vehicle crash in Malibu on October 18, 2023. A 22-year-old man was arrested after plowing into the pedestrians and parked cars. The crash was reported at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 21600 block of Pacific Coast Highway where they found the victims of the crash, along with the severely damaged vehicles. The crash began when the suspect lost control of his BMW and slammed into multiple parked cars before ricocheting and fatally striking the women, who were standing on the side of the road. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Crime scene tape stretches across the road in the aftermath of a collision that killed four Pepperdine students in Malibu on Oct. 17. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The driver accused of killing four Pepperdine students in a high-speed Malibu crash almost two weeks ago has been released on bond, according to jail records.

Fraser Michael Bohm, 22, faces four counts of malice murder and four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said at a recent news conference, adding that the charges stem from Bohm's "complete disregard for the life of others."

Prosecutors say Bohm was speeding along Pacific Coast Highway at 104 mph before the fatal collision.

Bohm pleaded not guilty to the eight felony charges Wednesday in a Van Nuys courtroom, where his bail was initially set at $8 million but the amount was lowered to $4 million during his arraignment. He was released on bond on Friday.

Read more: After deaths of four Pepperdine students on Pacific Coast Highway, a memorial and a call to action

Bohm was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence following the Oct. 17 crash, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Maria Navarro said. But he was released hours later.

In a news release at the time, the Sheriff’s Department said he was “released to allow detectives time to gather the evidence needed to secure the strongest criminal filing and conviction.”

Bohm was re-arrested on Thursday and booked on suspicion of four counts of murder. In the days between arrests, investigators collected additional evidence — including toxicology test and search warrant results and speed analyses — before submitting the case to the district attorney’s office.

Not much information about Bohm is available in public records. He attended Chaminade Prep and Oaks Christian, two pricey private schools with annual tuition of more than $20,000.

The BMW driven in the accident was paid for by his parents, Christopher and Brooke Bohm, who lived in a home in a gated Malibu community that was valued at more than $8.7 million, according to the Daily Mail.

Brooke Bohm filed for divorce in 2017, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court documents.

The four people killed — Niamh Rolston, Peyton Stewart, Asha Weir and Deslyn Williams — were sisters in the Alpha Phi sorority and seniors at Pepperdine University. Authorities believe they were standing near several parked vehicles in the 21600 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu when Bohm’s BMW barreled into the cars and then struck the women shortly before 9 p.m. on Oct. 17.

Investigators said they have determined that Bohm was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash, but the onboard computer of his car shows he was traveling at 104 mph before he lost control in the deadly collision, according to law enforcement sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly. It was that data, along with statements made by Bohm, saying he was aware of the posted 45-mph speed limit on that stretch of PCH, that led to the charges against him, sources say.

Read more: Driver sped at 104 mph in Malibu crash that killed 4 Pepperdine students, D.A. says

But Bohm’s attorney, Michael Kraut, says his client was not traveling that fast. He also has forwarded a claim to prosecutors alleging that another vehicle was involved in the crash. Last week, Kraut said his client is the victim of a road-rage incident on the night of the crash.

“They ignored evidence of a second car,” Kraut told The Times. “My client was getting away from the guy chasing him.”

Kraut said another driver “came into the lane and clipped him,” and Bohm “hit the brakes.”

“The evidence turned over showed at max [he was going] 70 mph,” Kraut said, citing the information he has received in the case, and adding that his client has “totally cooperated” with the investigation and passed a field sobriety test.

L.A. County sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Arens told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday that he had “no evidence” that the crash stemmed from an alleged road rage incident.

Read more: Behind the beauty, PCH in Malibu takes a deadly toll. Why it's getting more dangerous

The collision has renewed calls for safety improvements on PCH, particularly in the area of the crash, which some call “Dead Man’s Curve.”

Times staff writer Grace Toohey contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.