Georgia Mom Convicted of Vehicular Homicide For Crossing Street With Kids

A Google Street View image of the intersection where Raquel Nelson's four-year-old son was killed. There are no crosswalks in sight.

We don’t normally report on vehicle crashes here on the Capitol Hill blog, but this was so outrageous we couldn’t help ourselves.

A 30-year-old woman in Marietta, Georgia was convicted of vehicular homicide this week – and she wasn’t even driving a car. The woman was crossing the street with her three children when a driver, who had been drinking, hit and killed her four-year-old. The driver, Jerry Guy, was initially charged with “hit and run, first degree homicide by vehicle and cruelty to children,” Elise Hitchcock of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. “Charges were later dropped to just the hit and run charge.”

The man has previously been convicted of two hit-and-runs – on the same day, in 1997, one of them on the same road where he killed Raquel Nelson’s son.

Guy will serve six months for killing the boy, but Nelson will serve up to 36 months – just for crossing the street with her child. Yes, it’s true: they were not in a crosswalk. Are there any crosswalks on that street at all?

Hitchcock at the AJC says:

The conviction does not sit well with Sally Flocks, president and CEO of PEDS, a pedestrian advocacy organization.

“Invest the money in safe crossings,” Flocks said. “For the costs of the trial yesterday, they could have made a safe crossing. But they don’t want to do that.”

The Atlanta-Sandy-Springs-Marietta, Georgia metro area ranks 11th in the country for most dangerous streets for pedestrians, according to Transportation for America’s recent report on pedestrian safety and street design. The region had nearly 800 pedestrian deaths between 2000 and 2009.

Despite the fact that Atlanta-area municipalities continue to build roads, like the one where Nelson’s son was killed, with inadequate pedestrian crossings and sidewalks, and despite the fact that the federal government continues to vastly underfund pedestrian safety infrastructure on federally-funded roads and highways, the courts have pointed the finger at Nelson, blaming her for the death of her son on a road that was designed with no regard for pedestrian safety.

H/t to Anne Lutz Fernandez for bringing this story to our attention.

 

 

  • Anonymous
  • kama

    I’m sorry, carma, but politics play a huge role, especially in law.  If it didn’t, do you think there would be such an issue whenever a Supreme Court Justice is appointed?  Granted, a Justice is not a prosecutor, but at some point they WERE a lawyer, and their political leanings can make or break their nomination.

  • carma

    kama, what you are saying is still irrelevant to this particular case.

    politics of course plays a huge role in law, but i DOUBT this particular prosecutor’s stance on abortion/guncontrol, etc has anything to do with this case.

    If the prosecutor was a democrat, and im not saying he/she is, would it make the person any less stupid?

    and not all dem’s are liberal, as not all republican’s are conservatives.

    as a registered dem myself, i disagree on a majority of the party’s choices on taxing the rich and spending like a drunken sailor.  keynesian economics dont work.

  • This is ridiculous! The woman just lost her 4 year old son!!! Why are they doing this to her? What kind of sick freak is bringing her up on charges!? Even if there WAS a “safe crosswalk”, it would not have magically provided protection from a drunk driver. 

  • Fbfree

    The only information I have been able to gather so far on this comes from the Atlanta Journal Constitution article, and an older AJC article on the driver’s conviction.  http://www.ajc.com/news/cobb/bond-denied-for-suspect-453049.html.  The first article states:
    “The family had just gotten off a bus, Hernandez said. The family had
    reached the center median and was crossing the westbound lanes when the
    collision happened.”  It states that the family was crossing Austell Road near Austell Circle.
    Looking up the Georgia Statutes, the family could be charged if
    a) They were not crossing at an unmarked crosswalk.
    b) If the familly left a curb or other place of safety into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impractical for
    the driver to yield.
    The homocide by vehicle title to the charge applies to any violation of the Georgia Motor Vehicles and Traffic statute, including the behaviour of pedestrians.

    According to the AJC article, the conviction was for crossing the roadway elsewhere than at a crosswalk and for reckless conduct.  For the conviction to cite not crossing at a crosswalk on this roadway denies the rights of pedestrians to access.  However, the mother may still be rightfully charged if she had her son continue across the roadway from a position of safety directly into the path of a vehicle that could not stop in time.  Despite the fact that they were halfway across the road, they still needed to look to make sure that any approaching vehicle could stop before they stepped of the median.

    Did she look?  How far away was Mr. Guy’s vehicle when they started off the median?  How wide was the median at this location and was there a position of safety?  How far from an intersection was this?  Who had started crossing the westbound lanes?  From the reporting I have seen so far, I cannot answer these questions.

  • Simplylisatarot

    fucking ridiculous, the world is as mad as a hatter, and not in the fun way.

  • Neroden

    Depends on the state.  Georgia’s a psycho state.  In California, the pedestrian always has the right of way.

  • Neroden

    carma, I’ll settle for increasing the penalties for wilfully reckless and negligent manslaughter to life imprisonment.  People shouldn’t get lighter sentences just because they didn’t plan to kill someone specific; if you behave in a way which you should have known was calculated to kill people, I think that’s actually worse than deliberately killing someone.  At least in murder there may be a justification; drunk driving is simply callous, psychopathic disregard for the value of human life.

  • carma

    i agree on much harsher drunk driving penalties.  put it this way.  with drunk driving, you already KNOW (or should know) that your senses are diminished under the influence.  that is being closer to intent.  but lets say a fender bender that causes $2000 in damage with no injuries.  you cant propose putting everyone to jail…

    almost like killing ants with a blowtorch instead of ant spray.

  • Guest

    No but driver was black. Which was prob why he got off.

  • chubbys girl

    Why r they wastin the tax payrs money in tryin her when they could of put a cross walk at that intersection. Why make her suffer evn more? Hasnt she sufferd enough seeing her baby killd in fron of her. They r acting like she got the man drunk and told him 2 run her son down and kill him. Please, thats fuckin rediculous. They need 2 charge the man who commitd the crime. They should give him the death penalty 4 his crimes. He has several dwi’s charges against him in the past and hit and runs. What happnd to the 3 strick rule? He needs his license taken away 4 good. I guess he is free 2 kill more kids sinced he gotten away wit murder once. Where is the justice? I guess people can kill kids and get away wit murder. It makes me sick!!!!!

  • carma

    neroden,  maybe.  but in california,  you WILL get ticketed for jaywalking.   trust me on that.  as a new yorker visiting Cali, i found it weird that noone jaywalked, and then they told me the police actually gives tix to jaywalkers.  i was like .. wtf???

  • Ben61704

    WHO WAS THUS BUTTPLUG OF A JUDGE SOMEONE POST HIS INFO PLEASE.

  • Ben61704

    That’s the dumbest comment I have seen, Congratulations. PS I am a Democrat and ppl like you discredit our parties image.

  • Nick Wood

    Some more background information on the incident from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://www.ajc.com/news/jaywalkers-take-deadly-risks-527488.html):

    On April 10, she and her three children — Tyler, 9, A.J., 4, and Lauryn, 3 — went shopping because the next day was Nelson’s birthday. They had pizza, went to Wal-Mart and missed a bus, putting them an hour late getting home. Nelson, a student at Kennesaw State University, said she never expected to be out after dark, especially with the children.

    When the Cobb County Transit bus finally stopped directly across from Somerpoint Apartments, night had fallen. She and the children crossed two lanes and waited with other passengers on the raised median for a break in traffic. The nearest crosswalks were three-tenths of a mile in either direction, and Nelson wanted to get her children inside as soon as possible. A.J. carried a plastic bag holding a goldfish they’d purchased.

    “One girl ran across the street,” Nelson said. “For some odd reason, I guess he saw the girl and decided to run out behind her. I said, ‘Stop, A.J.,’ and he was in the middle of the street so I said keep going. That’s when we all got hit.”

  • Nick Wood

    The correct link to the AJC article:

    http://tinyurl.com/66f5pc4

  • Anonymous

    Remember how Georgia’s greatest writer, Margaret Mitchell, died!
     

  • katwren

    Let’s hear it for a legal defense fund for this woman.

  • Bob Davis

    Much as some crimes bring a reaction in many citizens “Anybody that commits an act like that oughta be taken out and shot,” in the real world of present day America in general and California in particular, actually executing a condemned criminal is so unlikely that even hard core advocates of capital punishment are

    starting to realize that life imprisonment without possibility of parole is the more practical and less expensive alternative. 

  • Moe from Canada

    The guy was drinking and driving… would a crosswalk have made any damn difference?! I don’t think so.

  • Moe from Canada

    The guy was drinking and driving… would a crosswalk have made any damn difference?! I don’t think so.

  • Neroden

     Those are probably local ordinances.  State law in California gives pedestrians the right of way and there’s no such thing as “jaywalking” in state law last I checked, unless it was changed quite recently.

  • Neroden

     Being cynical, I’ll suggest that it’s Georgia, ask whether the prosecutor, judge and jury were white, and wonder whether the thought was “The more black people in prison the better”.

  • Neroden

     Oh dear.  carma, Keynesian economics does work.  I could point you to literally reams of historical data (though if you’re really curious, Krugman has put the links on his NYT blog over the last few years)… but anyway, ignorance and ideological thinking abounds these days, apparently across party lines.

  • Neroden

     (It doesn’t help that most people don’t even know what Keynesian economics *is*.  Keynes called for slashing government spending and running surpluses during *booms*, but that’s been impossible to implement for political reasons, especially under Republican Presidents — last President to even try that was Clinton.  And it worked.  Keyens called for big government spending and money-printing during *busts* only.)

  • More importantly, who was the buttplug of a prosecutor?

  • carma

    @6c5c5c27b2d41d6a4003bb4b4267ecb7:disqus ,
    Let me explain it in as simple terms as possible.  Pretend the supply of money is a big pond.  and the goal is to create more water in this pond.  Govt spending is basically taking water from one end of the pool to the other end.  NO REAL water has been created.  just a false illusion from one end thinking that there is more water.  The ONLY way to create more water is an external entity that actually creates jobs.  the PRIVATE sector.  while you do need govt services (and spending) to support the private sector.  you can NOT solely have a society based on pure govt spending.

    believe me, im not ignorant nor ideological.  i just so happen to work my ass off seeing 40 cents out of every dollar i earn go to wasted programs that really didnt create any net new jobs or give certain folks a sense of entitlement that they dont really deserve.

  • Atlgrl78

    petition signed and the Cobb Co DA sent this (my response in the middle): 
     Neither I, nor this office, have been or will be involved with the case you have referenced.  Unfortunately you have blindly followed what someone else has told you.  That does not truly reflect intelligent thinking.
     
    The incident occurred in April of 2010.  The driver was prosecuted last year for hit and run and he received a 5 year sentence.
     
    Perhaps you should send an email back to Eliza Harris in Orlando Florida,  the person who encouraged you to sign the petition, and let her know how wrong she has been.
     
    Have a nice day.
    —–Intelligent thinking and a comprehensive understanding of the municipal / local / county court systems are two different things.  Perhaps you can help this misunderstanding by sharing the Court that is involved with this case
    ——-
    Thank you for asking.  The State Court of Cobb County handles all traffic citations.  The charge against Ms. Nelson was a misdemeanor traffic offense and carries the same punishment as running a stop sign.  While the media like to hype events, (like 36 months in jail) it is unlikely that she will receive anything more than probation.  The driver (who was not drunk as shown in the petition) was convicted in October 2010 and received a 5 year sentence for hit and run.  Had he not left the scene he would probably not have been charged.

  • Lcms0516

    This judge is a moron.  He is awarding the guy for drunk driving and murder.  As if to teach the mother not to j-walk.  The mother is not responsible for that idiot’s drinking n’ driving.

  • Walks_on_Clouds

    The judge has lost his mind. The driver was drunk. THIS is the point of the problem, not the mom. He went through all the education he did to make such lousy verdicts? He needs to slam the driver for the death of the boy, the mom has suffered enough.

  • Outraged to the eth degree

    WTF 1st Casey Anthony gets off now this this world is coming to an unmoral end!!!!!

  • John B

    What about the local government buearocrats?  They place a bus stop across the highway from apartments.  They don’t install a cross-walk or traffic light. They created this dangerous situation.

    And none of them will lose a penny in salary, be reprimanded or punished in any way. They will retire, get fat pensions and no one will blame them for killing this child.

  • Martha Fields

    One can have a baby go missing for 31 days, found dead and the mother is getting ready to get “PAID”….  A man can drive drunk, cause death and go home to do it again.  A mother can take all the time to care and protect their child and end up in jail.  What a system the USA have…

  • royce

    our justice system is a laughing stock of the nation.    We our going down quickly.  A drug store worker gets life for shooting a robber, which has a gun.  A girl kills her baby and never reports it and gets off free.   A women crossing the street with her kids gets hit by a drunk driver and gets a felony charge.   I just dont believe in the United States anymore.

  • royce

    if it was the judges kids or grandkids you would have seen a different outlook.  
    Maybe the judge and drunk driver are sweet on each other.

  • Shavoncook

    What happen to the 3rd strike rule? Who is this guy paying off or better yet who is he? Three times all he gets is a slap on the wrist and this poor mother is having to deal with the death of her son and nor being able to see the other two children for at least 3 years. WTH!!!!

  • Red

    I really feel that they should never have charged the mother whatsoever!!!!!!  This is nuts, and what about the guy that hit and killed the young boy…..he gets off again with only a minor couple of years!  I am appauled and angry…this needs to be revisited and something seriously looked into….something is not right….is someone paying off someone….does someone know somebody and pulled some strings……this is all wrong.

  • Just2sweet4u59

    are you SERIOUS????? there are no crosswalks there for the woman to have properly crossed, and the driver was drinking so it stands to reason he would have hit the child anyway even if he was in a crosswalk and this poor mother lost her child as the result of a drunk driver and SHE has to go to jail and need i remind you there WERE NO CROSSWALKS!! and yet, a different mother knowingly doesn’t report her child missing for 31 days during which time she is partying living the good life, has killed her child and gets off. there is something disgustingly wrong with what is laughingly known as a justice system!

  • Virgolady_95866

    IT JUST MAKES ME WONDER WHY OFFICIALS IN GEORGIA SEEM TO BE JUST PLAIN IGNORANT.  HOW DO SOME OF THESE HOLIGANS GET THEIR JOBS??  DOES THEIR JOB COME WITH A BUCKET OF CHICKEN??  IT’S JUST EMBARRASSING THAT THEY ARE CONSTANTLY IN THE HEADLINES FOR THEY MOST STUPID THINGS!!!

  • Cathy Bowen

    I lost my son Kenny because he was using a “Shortcut” that many people in my area used…I NEVER Knew about this “shortcut” before my son got Killed There…Afterward I found out about another Mom who lost her son 8 months eatlier (and didn’t know what to do about it) Together we fought to get Fencing put up On The Middle Divider the as well as on the Sides of the Highway…Where this Mom Crossed Looks Very Much The Same As Where My Son Crossed area …Fencing will Deter Crossing … Prosecuting the Mom for “Jaywalking” if a Farce !!! They are just trying to push the Responsibility, Of Not Having A Fence Up To Protect People, Pushing it onto a Grieving Mom Is An OutRAGE!!! I just watched this story on NBC’s Today Show 🙁 It Brings Back The Pain Of August 7th 1999 (when I lost My Son)…I’m So Sorry To & For This Mom .
    Cathy Bowen Bronx, New York 

  • Cathy Bowen

    OH And 1 More Thing , She should GET As Many PICTURES Of This Area As She Can And ALSO Pictures Of The Distance between where she crossed & Where the Pedestrian Crossing Is … She & Her Baby Are In My Thoughts & Prayers.
    Cathy Bowen Bronx New York

  • So sorry for your terrible loss, Cathy. Thanks so much for being part of this conversation. 

  • Safestreet

    So sorry to hear about your loss Cathy. I don’t know the specifics about your case but the solution in this case (and most like it) is not to put a fence up. The solution is to have a crosswalk and slow engineered travel speeds. SAFE STREETS is the solution.

  • Speak_Out!!!

    please send your comments to the Cobb County Solicitor General, Barry Morgan. His office email is Barry.Morgan@cobbcounty.org
    You can find contact information for all presiding judges in Cobb County on the Solicitor General’s contact page of their website. Here: http://cobbsolicitorgeneral.org/contact

  • Royyinc24

    Unfortunately this is just another example of the stupidity in our “lovely” state of Georgia. Real child and elderly abuse cases are reported throughout Georgia municipals and nothing is done until someone is financially exploited or dies. A mother struggling to take care of her children is dragged through the mud by a self righteous idiot and a jury of nuts. She is already suffering the loss of her child and will carry that hurt for a lifetime. So, its OK to case her more pain, cause her daughters even greater pain and hardship of not having their mother and their brother so you can chalk another WIN in your pursuit of selfish career goals. Thanks Barry Morgan aka the Joker of Georgia – will Governor Nathan Deal be her Caped Crusader or will he play the role of Mr. Freeze. You have support in Savannah Mrs. Nelson.

  • In the State of Georgia the Solicitor General has responsibility for prosecuting misdemeanors, while the DA sticks to felonies.

  • be the change you want to see in the world.  http://www.change.org/petitions/crosswalks-at-all-bus-stops 

  • i’m sorry about your son. very sad story…im sure u miss him dearly, for nothing can replace a child.  bless your heart and may God give you strenght to continue to live day by day with such a burden.

  • Lesleyrharrison

    After Casey Anthony was quitted how can this injustice go unoticed. I am sick to my stomach!

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