A woman convicted of vehicular homicide after her 4-year-old son was struck and killed by a van as they jaywalked across a busy Atlanta-area street has accepted a judge’s unusual offer to have her case retried.
Last week the judge sentenced 30-year-old Raquel Nelson to a year of probation, sparing her the three-year prison sentence she could have received on the charges for which a jury convicted her.
If acquitted after a new trial the probation sentence could be wiped out. It could also mean Nelson ends up with a toughter sentence, but she told NBC’s “Today” show she’s willing to take that risk.
Nelson’s attorney, Steve Sadow, tells NBC he took the case pro bono because her prosecution is “both morally wrong and unjustified.” He’s also calling on Cobb County Solicitor General Barry Morgan to dismiss the case.
Agreed. The grieving mother never should have been charged in the first place. You might remember, Nelson, a single mother, had exited a bus after a long day and was crossing the street to her apartment in April 2010. Taking the crosswalk would have required Nelson and her three children to walk several blocks down and cross another, very dark side street. So they crossed from the bus directly to their apartment building.
As she was leading her children to the median of the busy five-lane road 4-year-old A.J. broke away from Raquel and was hit. Raquel and her two daughter were injured. To add insult to those injuries, 5 weeks after A.J.’s death investigators showed up at the apartment and slapped the grieving mother with charges.
An all white jury, none of whom had ever used public transportation, convicted Nelson of vehicular manslaughter in July. Unbelievably, she faced more time in prison than the man who hit her son and drove off, even though alcohol and pain meds were found in his system AND he has two prior hit & runs on his record. He was sentenced to six years in prison but served only five months.
The case sparked outrage from activists who flooded the judge’s office with letters, held a rally in metro Atlanta and organized an online petition campaign that attracted more than 125,000 signature. Looks like the judge agreed and Nelson’s new trial is scheduled to begin at the end of October. Fingers crossed for a complete acquittal. Hell, this woman is entitled to compensation after what she’s been through!