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 overreach.
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.
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.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
1 of 31
2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
2 of 31
3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
3 of 31
4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
4 of 31
5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
5 of 31
6 of 31
7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
7 of 31
8 of 31
9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
9 of 31
10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
10 of 31
11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
11 of 31
12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
12 of 31
13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
13 of 31
14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
14 of 31
15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
15 of 31
16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
16 of 31
17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
17 of 31
18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
18 of 31
19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
19 of 31
20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
20 of 31
21. Bae #retailtherapy
21 of 31
22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
22 of 31
23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
23 of 31
24. Diggy Simmons
24 of 31
25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
25 of 31
26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
26 of 31
27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
27 of 31
28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
28 of 31
29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
29 of 31
30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
30 of 31
31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
31 of 31