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July 18, 2013

Suspect in drag racing deaths on bail in US case

PHILADELPHIA — A man who allegedly struck and killed a Philadelphia woman and her three sons while drag racing in Philadelphia had been out on bail this year in a $3.6 million ambulance fraud case.

Khusen Akhmedov, 23, had also racked up four speeding tickets since 2009 and a charge of driving on a suspended license. He paid just a few hundred dollars to settle three of the speeding tickets, and was due in court on the other one next month.

Akhmedov, of Lancaster, now faces far more serious charges for allegedly mowing down 28-year-old Samara Banks and her boys late Tuesday as the family crossed a busy road notorious for both drag racing and pedestrian deaths. Her oldest son, a 5-year-old, survived.

A judge set bail Thursday at $2.5 million each for Akhmedov and the other driver, 30-year-old Ahmen Holloman of Philadelphia, on third-degree murder, vehicular homicide and other charges. Prosecutors argue that they are equally responsible, given the alleged street racing.

Photos posted on Akhmedov's Facebook page appear to show him with the 2012 Audi involved in the crash, while a short video purports to show him racing another car. The Audi has a police sticker on it.

It was not immediately clear if he or Holloman have defense lawyers. Akhmedov's lawyer in the ambulance fraud case did not immediately return a message Thursday.

Holloman's friends spoke out in his defense Thursday. They denied he was racing Akhmedov, and pointed out he stopped and dialed 911 after the crash.

Friend William Torres told WCAU-TV that Holloman acknowledged speeding, but that Akhmedov came out of nowhere and passed him.

"He told me he might've cut a car or two but that car that pulled up and passed him, he didn't know where it came from," Torres said. "There was no race. That guy was driving reckless, that's what that guy was doing, driving reckless. Now he's trying to involve my friend by saying he was racing."

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