Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Sentencing of Raquel Nelson

Raquel Nelson and A.J. Nelson.  Photo by WGCL TV.
Good news for Raquel Nelson, the mother facing up to 3 years jail time for a conviction of vehicular homicide after a hit and run driver killed her son.  Public outcry, which included over 140,000 signatures on a petition in support of Nelson, character witnesses and international news coverage may have swung odds in her favor.

The Judge Katherine Tanksley acknowledged that her office had received numerous letters and emails requesting leniency.  In Cobb County State Court, the judge sentenced Nelson to 40 hours of community service and 12 months probation, but also granted the mother the unusual option to have a new trial for all charges.

“It’s one of the most shocking things I’ve ever been involved with,” the defense attorney, David Savoy, stated.  “A judge, on her own motion, granting a new trial.”  “I’ve never understood the power of the blogosphere,” Savoy commented, “and now, I’m humbled.”  Nelson has opted for a new trial and if acquitted, all charges will be deleted from her record.

Nelson with attorneys after sentencing.  Photo by AJC.

There is even speculation that Cobb County may decide not to re-try the case to avoid the expense and negative attention that a new trial would press on the county.  Indeed, the prosecutors decision to zealously prosecute Nelson highlighted the local government's failure to provide adequate safe passageways for commuters using public transportation in poor neighborhoods.

Tearful witnesses included a teacher, friends and family members who know the young mother, and each testified that the she was a good University student, as well as a loving and caring mother.  Kudos to all who took the time to speak up, take action, sign a petition, or email Cobb County officials!  A grave injustice has been averted.