Mom convicted in son's jaywalking death

[deleted account] ( 24 moms have responded )

Thoughts?

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/mom-...

A Marietta, Ga., mom who was convicted of jaywalking after her 4-year-old son was run over and killed in a hit-and-run said on the Today Show that the worst part of going to jail would be the separation from her two remaining kids.

Raquel Nelson was convicted of homicide by vehicle and reckless conduct by a jury and faces sentencing tomorrow. She can receive up to a three-year jail sentence, six times the stretch that Jerry Guy--who admitted to drinking before running over Nelson's son, A.J.--served.

"I think to come after me so much harder than they did him is a slap in the face because this will never end for me," she said. "It's three years away from the two that I have left."

Nelson also said that the jury had "never been in my shoes," because each of them answered that they had never taken public transportation before. Nelson, who doesn't have a car, was three-tenths of a mile away from the nearest crosswalk when her bus dropped her off at the stop across the street from her apartment with her three children. She decided to cross with her kids rather than remain outside any later at night, she said. (You can read more about her case here.)

"We are just hoping as a family that [the judge] is compassionate and lets my niece remain with her other children," Nelson's aunt Loretta Williams said. Nearly 75,000 have signed an online petition in support of Nelson.

You can watch the interview below: (follow the link to get the video)

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Mary - posted on 07/26/2011

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I've seen more this story more than a few times, and I'm a bit conflicted on it. No, I don't think it's morally right that this grieving mother could possibly spend even a second in jail. Upon review, she technically really was jaywalking. She was not at an intersection, and had to cross a median strip in the middle of a five lane highway.

http://t4america.org/blog/2011/07/18/pro...

This link gives an actual picture of where the incident occurred.

This whole situation is a clusterfuck. I cannot begin to understand the mildness of the penalty given the driver. He has two prior hit-and-runs, and was chemically impaired.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/radley-bal...

Now, I feel horribly for this woman, but the truth is, she did, by crossing this highway at this juncture, play an involuntary role her son's death. We can argue about the inconvenience of the location of the nearest crosswalk, and we can play up her plight as a poor, single mother having to take two buses home with two kids and her shopping bags. We can argue that the city is partly responsible in not better coordinating bus stops and intersections. All around, it is a very sad story, and I feel nothing but sympathy for this woman. However, there are a number of factors that contributed to this, and one them ultimately is the mother's choice to cross the street where she did.

People read this and become outraged...but what, really is the solution to this problem? Several articles I've read suggest putting in crosswalks where there are bus stops. And that makes sense in some locations. However, it could also be argued that you simply move the bus stop to the nearest crosswalk. Does it mean that the inhabitants of that apartment complex will have to walk 3/10 mile further to get to it? Yes, but since it can't be assumed that they are the only people utilizing public transportation, that might be the more logical step to ensure that people cross at an intersection. From the photo I posted, putting a crosswalk at that particular spot is somewhat impractical.

Mary - posted on 07/26/2011

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Actually, Tara, another woman, in that same county in Georgia (Cobb), has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct when her 4 y/o daughter was killed while she and her four children jaywalked. The driver was not charged with anything.


http://www.ajc.com/news/jaywalkers-take-...

Krista - posted on 07/26/2011

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I agree with Mary, that LEGALLY, she does share the responsibility. Jaywalking is illegal -- full stop.

However, I do not think she should have been convicted of homicide by vehicle, where she was not actually operating the vehicle. Reckless conduct, though...yes. And I would hope that her sentence can be served via probation or something of the sort. I think it would be horrible for her two other kids -- first they lost their brother, and now their mom is going to jail for three years? What purpose would that serve?

UPDATE: This is unusual: the judge gave her the choice of 12 months' probation, or a new trial. She also suspended the fines. So it looks like the judge is being pretty sympathetic.

Mary - posted on 07/26/2011

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Tara, emotionally, I agree that both charging and convicting her are outrageous to me on an emotional level. There is nothing the courts or penal system can do to her that could compare to the death of her child.



However, legally, she is at fault. She did jaywalk, which did lead to her and her children being hit by the car. As tragic as the outcome is to personally, it does not negate the simple truth that she does bear some of the responsibility for her choice to cross a five lane highway where it was (obviously) unsafe. In hindsight, that choice, while understandable in her situation, was also "reckless conduct".



As for the "jury of her peers" issue...it's something I'm torn on as well. No, they did not share her racial or socioeconomic background. That doesn't necessarily mean that they were unsympathetic to her plight. It just means that they (like others on here) looked at the facts presented, the laws involved, and reached a verdict that, while emotionally unpalatable, is legally correct.

Tara - posted on 07/26/2011

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After reading more about this I am appalled that she is being charged. She and her two year old daughter were also hit!! Why hasn't anyone mentioned that?! And initially mom was not charged.

The man was under the influence of both alcohol and painkillers and was legally blind in one eye!! And has two previous similar charges? And yet he is being charged with simply "hit and run". Nothing to do with death at all.



She crossed with several other adults and children at night in the dark, not a smart choice but one I likely would have made as well if I had been in her shoes that day.

I thought a trial in America by jury was supposed to be a jury of peers, meaning the people sitting on the jury should be made up of a variety of people from varying sectors of society.

The jury in this case was all white middle class Americans who don't use public transit. Hmmmm not really seeing any kind of real ability to put themselves in her shoes so to speak.

She did not run her child down, a drunk blind ass did.

Yes she could have walked down the street to a cross walk, she will regret that forever, but to send her to prison for 3 years and separate her from her children, curtail her current enrollment at University and have her incarcerated using tax payer dollars for 3 years?????? Gimme a fucking break.

The prison and penal system in the US is so profitable to the private sector, and the kickbacks so great to the politicians they will do anything to ensure those prisons stay full, and the whole status quotient of minorities and genders must be fulfilled. Unreal and ridiculous.

If anything she should be given a suspended sentence to be served in the community for negligence. (which she was).

The driver should serve some time, but mostly he should serve in the community, have his drivers license revoked, wear a ankle band and report daily to probation and parole. Perhaps also having a mandatory transportation plan in place.

Prisons should be for violent and deviant people. They should house only the dangerous and twisted people of society. They should not house white collar criminals, accidental death cases (such as this one) and they should not house traffic infractions (except those causing death that were due to negligence or intent such as driving under the influence, driving while suspended etc.)

Crime and punishment in the US is unique in that it is willing to incarcerate people for non-violent crimes, for long periods of time, filling the prison system and giving the illusion of a country with alarming crime rates, when in fact crime rates have decreased over 50% since the early 70's. That includes all crime, violent and otherwise, the only difference is the truth in sentencing laws that some states have in place, requiring prisoners to serve at least 85% of their sentence.

Another post altogether.....

Either way, I think this is crazy nucking futs.

24 Comments

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~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/27/2011

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My mom owned a ballet studio on and extremely busy 4 lane road. You had to park in the grocery store parking lot across the street if all the parking in front was occupied. There was indeed a crosswalk, and one of her dancers was going across with her mom.....she got hit by a COP! People STILL get hit on crosswalks.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/27/2011

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I think J walking is just about the lamest "crime" you can commit. Lets just pretend for a second that where she chose to cross was indeed a crosswalk. I still think the douche that did the hit and run would have killed her child.

Rosie - posted on 07/26/2011

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i agree that she should be charged with something, but not manslaughter. perhaps jaywalking since that is what she did, she didn't kill her kid, the driver did.

Becky - posted on 07/26/2011

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In Alberta, the driver is always responsible if he hits a pedestrian, regardless of where the pedestrian is on the road. But I understand, it's not this way everywhere. Dh says where he is from (Thunder Bay), pedestrians only have the right of way in crosswalks and even then, a driver might not stop for you. He may be exaggerating, but the way he tells it, you're taking your life in your hands any time you step out into the road!

Jen - posted on 07/26/2011

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I don't think she should have been crossing in the middle of the street, but I don't think she should have been charged with manslaughter. Yes, she was putting her children at danger, but the guy driving the car was the one who killed the little boy. He should have had a harsher punishment.

Tara - posted on 07/26/2011

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Still don't think it would matter if the scenario were different as I suggested.
But I'm sure he would have received a stiffer penalty and a more serious charge had he hit her at a cross walk or had he stayed and had a blood test or breathalyzer to determine blood alcohol levels.
I imagine the fact she was jaywalking wouldn't have played such a big role in the outcome.

Mary - posted on 07/26/2011

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An afterthought...I wonder if the fact that she was jaywalking had anything to to with the (ridiculous) sentencing of the driver?

Although he admitted to "a few drinks" and being on prescribed painkillers, it was a hit and run. As ludicrous as it is, it also means that there was likely no way to legally prove inebriation and/or impairment. Which made it possible for his defense to argue he was less culpable because she and her children were jaywalking.

Becky - posted on 07/26/2011

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Well, looking at the picture Mary posted, yes, she did jaywalk and it was a stupid choice. I would never try to cross a busy highway with 3 children (you can't hold on to that many) anywhere other than a crosswalk. I still don't feel 3 years in prison would be warrented though. The fact is, her choice contributed to her son's death, but she didn't kill her child, ahole driving under the influence did! He should be the one facing years in jail, not her!

Tara - posted on 07/26/2011

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Yes I agree she did do something illegal and unsafe that resulted in her child's death, however if the story had read like this:

"A mother grieves for her son who was killed by a hit run driver:
Mary Smith and her three children were on their way home from a church function when her Escalade lost power. Mrs. Smith's cell phone was not working. It was late at night and she saw a payphone on the other side of a 5 lane highway, Mrs. Smith then crossed the road with her three children, when standing on the median with the pay phone in sight, her 4 year old son ran out and when she followed him, a car driven by a man under the influence of both alcohol and drugs as well as being legally blind in one eye, came barreling down the road, striking her and her children, killing the little boy who ran out in the street."

Does anyone really believe that that scenario would end in the same conviction given the same jurors?
I doubt it, I would bet my house on it actually.
I truly feel she would not be charged with anything and the driver would be spending several years in prison for vehicular manslaughter. Even though, essentially the facts are the same. She broke the law, crossed a busy highway with 3 kids in tow. But I guarantee it would never have played out the same in court.

Sarah - posted on 07/26/2011

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From looking at the photo Mary posted, it's probably something I would have done ON MY OWN. I would never have tried to cross all those lanes of traffic with kids in tow.

I don't think she should go to prison though, I think she's been punished enough.

Corinne - posted on 07/26/2011

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I don't drive either and usually walk the 2 miles from town with shopping and kids. I also think it was a lazy and stupid thing to do, but jail time? Seriously, there's something very wrong with her remaining children being punished for their mothers mistake.

Mary - posted on 07/26/2011

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Ah, Jodi - I woke up in a mood this am, and the (admittedly horrible) thought that keeps running through my head is this:

Would this be called a "natural consequence" of not crossing the street at an intersection, or is it a "punishment"?

Jodi - posted on 07/26/2011

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Mary, thank you for the extra info. I, too, have been torn on this one. I do not in any way agree with the sentence the driver received. BUT, I have been torn about the culpability of the mother. And to be quite honest, even with the new information I am still torn. I can honestly see why a crosswalk 1/2 mile away may be a problem. It's just such a terribly tragic situation.

Becky - posted on 07/25/2011

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Huh, well, if she was actually at a corner, then she really wasn't jaywalking. Like the Forbes blog says, here, any corner is a crosswalk, even if there isn't actually one there. And pedestrians always have the right of way - a driver is at fault for hitting one, even if the pedestrian was actually jaywalking. Not to mention, he was drunk...!!
I think her main error here was not holding onto her 4 year old's hand as she crossed the street! But, I don't think that's somethign she should go to jail for. LIke she says, she already has to live with the fact that her actions cost her son his life, for the rest of hers. And that fact that the asshole who hit him is serving less time than she might get is infuriating! No wonder there are still so many idiots who drink and drive!

Jodi - posted on 07/25/2011

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I saw this story earlier, and thought that SURELY there was more to this.

But there really isn't.

Here is an interesting article:
http://blogs.forbes.com/erikkain/2011/07...


It appears there are real city design issues here which results in regular jaywalking by parents because the nearest crossovers are simply not convenient or practical.

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