Raquel Nelson Sentenced to Year of Probation, Granted Option of New Trial

Raquel Nelson, the Georgia mother who was convicted of vehicular homicide after a motorist killed her 4-year-old son as she crossed the street with him, was given the option of seeking a new trial at her sentencing today, the Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting.

Nelson told the Today Show that the jurors who convicted her of vehicular homicide didn't understand what it is like to depend on public transportation. Photo: Atlanta Journal Constitution

Nelson was sentenced to two terms of 12 months probation, to be served concurrently, as well as community service. But Cobb County Judge Katherine Tanksley said the 30-year-old Nelson, who has two other children, could also seek a new trial instead of accepting the sentence.

Her attorney, David Savoy, told the AJC that her initial inclination is to seek a new trial.

An all-white jury convicted Nelson earlier this month on charges of vehicular homicide, jaywalking and reckless conduct, after a driver killed her son while they attempted to cross the street between a bus stop and their home in Marietta. She faced up to three years in prison.

The boy’s killer, Jerry L. Guy, was sentenced to only six months. Guy, who fled the scene, had two prior hit-and-runs on his record and admitted to having been drinking and using pain killers earlier in the day.

The case sparked a national outcry, with more than 135,000 people signing an online petition asking for leniency for Nelson, according to CNN.

David Goldberg of Transportation for America spoke to us as the story was unfolding.

“Our position is going to be that she certainly should appeal and it should be overturned,” he said. “She should never have been charged. A person with no vehicle should never be charged with vehicular homicide.”

Goldberg said this case should inspire some thought on the part of local transportation and law enforcement officials.

“This is emblematic of bigger problem that exists in metro Atlanta and across the country,” he said. “A case like this puts in stark relief the dangerous designs that exist out there in communities across the country.”

We will be posting updates as the story unfolds.