Ga. woman fights charges in son’s jaywalking death

Apr 17, 2012, 6:17 PM

Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) – Raquel Nelson faced a dilemma after she was convicted of vehicular homicide in the jaywalking-related death of her 4-year-old son: She could serve a year of probation for the conviction or risk a new trial and lengthier penalty for a crime she doesn’t believe she committed.

On Tuesday, though, Nelson picked a third option. Her attorney asked the Georgia Court of Appeals to dismiss all criminal charges against Nelson, arguing that prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to charge her with any crime involving the death of her son A.J., who was struck by a hit-and-run driver as Nelson led him across the street.

“This was crossing the street with other people to get home,” defense attorney Steve Sadow told the three-judge panel. “It was unfortunate. And it was tragic. But that doesn’t make it a crime.”

Nelson was charged after A.J. was struck by a van as they jaywalked across a busy five-lane road in suburban Atlanta, and the case against her sparked outrage from activists who flooded the judge’s office with letters and gathered thousands of signatures on an online petition to support her.

She and her three children had just stepped off a bus at a stop in Marietta late on the night of April 10, 2010 to return to her apartment complex across the street. Nelson led her children to a median instead of walking to a crosswalk three-tenths of a mile away, according to court records, when her daughter darted safely across the street and her son tried to follow.

That’s when he was fatally struck by an oncoming van driven by Jerry Guy, who had been drinking earlier in the day while taking pain medication, was partially blind and had two previous hit-and-run convictions from 1997, records show.

The decision to prosecute Guy, who fled the scene, was an easy one. He pleaded guilty to hit-and-run charges and was sentenced to six months in prison. But the move to charge Nelson, the grieving mother devastated by her son’s death, struck many as an overreach.

Prosecutors didn’t make any arguments at Tuesday’s hearing, an unusual move that surprised observers. But the Cobb County Solicitor’s Office said in a motion that Guy wasn’t to blame for A.J.’s death and that he was only charged because he fled the scene after the accident.

“The officers determined that A.J. was killed because his mother walked with him into the roadway under unsafe conditions,” the filing said. “Another driver could have just as easily been the one that hit A.J. In fact, there is evidence that another driver did almost hit the group after the collision.”

She was convicted in July of second-degree vehicular homicide, reckless conduct and jaywalking and sentenced to a year of probation. But she accepted a judge’s offer of a new trial instead. The reckless conduct charge was later dropped, but Sadow and Nelson came to court on Tuesday to request the other two charges, both misdemeanors, be dismissed as well. If the charges aren’t dropped and the case goes to trial, Nelson could face up to three years in prison.

Sadow doesn’t want the case to get that far. He argued that prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to charge her with any criminal wrongdoing in crossing the street, and urged the court to find that the death was caused by the van’s driver and not his client’s unfortunate decision.

“She has to live with this the rest of her life,” he said. “And it’s critical that there has to be a determination that she did nothing criminally wrong.”

The court isn’t likely to make a decision for months, but Nelson said she can’t have closure until it does.

“The waiting is very hard, but hopefully this will come to an end,” she said.

___

Follow Bluestein at
http://www.twitter.com/bluestein

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - A home with a "Sold" sign is shown, Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Surfside, Fla.  Average long-ter...
Associated Press

Average long-term US mortgage rates retreat this week

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates eased again this week as the Federal Reserve remains likely to raise its benchmark borrowing rate in its ongoing battle to bring down inflation. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the 30-year rate fell to 5.30% from 5.70% last week. One year ago the average 30-year […]
9 hours ago
FILE - Ryan Kelley, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, speaks during a rally on Feb. 8, 2022 out...
Associated Press

Michigan governor hopeful pleads not guilty in Jan. 6 riot

A Republican candidate for Michigan governor pleaded not guilty Thursday for his actions during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when he says he and other supporters of then-President Donald Trump were exercising their free speech rights. Ryan Kelley appeared via video for a brief hearing in federal court, weeks after […]
9 hours ago
Firefighters hose down a burning car after a strike hit a residential area, in Kramatorsk, Donetsk ...
Associated Press

Russia taking ‘operational pause’ in Ukraine, analysts say

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Foreign analysts say Russia may be temporarily easing its offensive in eastern Ukraine as the Russian military attempts to reassemble its forces for a significant – and what it hopes could prove decisive – offensive to conquer the neighboring country. On Wednesday, Russian forces made no claimed or assessed territorial gains […]
9 hours ago
Motorists stop for fuel at gas stations in Detroit, Tuesday, July 5, 2022. As Congress and now the ...
Associated Press

Gas prices ‘double-edged sword’ hurts drivers, helps climate

As Congress and now the Supreme Court stymie the Biden administration’s efforts to curb climate change, one thing the president doesn’t want – sky high gas prices – actually is nibbling away at emissions of heat-trapping gas. Gas prices in much of the United States shot past the $5 a gallon mark last month before […]
9 hours ago
People walk past the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 in New York.   Inflation t...
Associated Press

Wall Street expects inflation squeeze on 2Q earnings

NEW YORK (AP) — Inflation tightened its grip on businesses and consumers during the second quarter and investors expect to see a dent in the latest round of corporate earnings. Wall Street already had expected relatively muted earnings growth in 2022 following a sharp recovery in 2021 that was driven by pent up demand from […]
9 hours ago
FILE - Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey gives his state of the state address at the Arizona Capit...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Ducey backs Robson as successor over Trump pick

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday endorsed businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson to be his successor, adding his name to a growing list of mainstream conservatives looking to boost her past Donald Trump-endorsed frontrunner Kari Lake. Robson, a political newcomer, has used her family’s vast wealth to blanket the airwaves and narrow the […]
9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Ga. woman fights charges in son’s jaywalking death