Georgia Prosecutor Continues Case Against Raquel Nelson

The impaired hit-and-run driver who struck and killed her son on a metro Atlanta road in 2010 has been released from prison by now, but Raquel Nelson is still being prosecuted for her purported role in the tragedy.

The Georgia Court of Appeals upheld the homicide conviction of Raquel Nelson, whose four-year-old son was killed by an impaired driver in 2010. Photo: ##http://myfox8.com/2012/04/18/ga-woman-fights-charges-in-sons-jaywalking-death/## MyFox8##

The single mother of three was injured trying to prevent the collision that killed four-year-old A.J. Newman. That didn’t stop an all white jury from convicting the African-American woman of vehicular homicide last year. Prosecutors brought charges on the grounds that Nelson and her children were not in a crosswalk, though the suburban arterial that separated her apartment complex from a bus stop had no crossing nearby.

Nelson faced three years, while driver Jerry Guy, who has glaucoma and admitted to drinking and taking pain killers before the crash, was sentenced to just six months. After the trial attracted national media attention, a Cobb County judge offered Nelson a reduced sentence of one-year probation or a retrial.

Wanting to clear her name, Nelson chose a retrial. She has since teamed up with high-profile Atlanta defense lawyer Steve Sadow, who took on the case pro bono. Sadow asked an appellate court to throw out the conviction for lack of evidence. But late last month the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld the decision, according to legal website Law.com. “[We] conclude that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support the jury’s guilty verdict,” wrote Judges Charles B. Mikell, M. Yvette Miller and William M. Ray II.

The court cited a state law which “says that any person who causes the death of another, without an intention to do so, by violating traffic laws commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the second degree,” according to Law.com. Sadow argued that the driver of the vehicle, not Nelson, caused A.J.’s death.

“While we have the greatest sympathy for [Nelson’s] plight, this court must interpret the law and apply it with an even hand; the appellate process affords us no latitude to make adjustments for the ill-earned good fortune of the lucky, or as in this case, the heart-rending misfortune of the unlucky,” the judges said.

Cobb County Solicitor General Barry Morgan has said he will continue to prosecute Nelson. In a brief filed with the Court of Appeals, Morgan wrote: “When a pedestrian chooses to cross a divided highway … outside the protection of a crosswalk, she risks her own safety [as] well as the safety of those with her.”

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the case will likely end up before the Georgia Supreme Court.

  • Bolwerk

    Georgia gave us Nancy Grace too.  The place is so batshit right-wing that it shouldn’t be allowed to have prosecutors. 

  • Long-Time Reader

    The court cited a state law which “says that any person who causes the
    death of another, without an intention to do so, by violating traffic
    laws commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the second degree…”

    Oh, good. So, I guess the State of Georgia will now be prosecuting all motor vehicle fatalities this aggressively. So, the next time a wealthy, white teenager crashes his car and kills someone, that kid will face the full wrath of the law, just like Raquel Nelson.

  • Eric McClure

    [Sigh.] What an unmitigated travesty.

  • Joe R.

    This case so perfectly symbolizes everything that is wrong with society.

  • KillMoto

    @3b56f0f7025382aa4fb09bb8950ca88e:disqus Agreed 100%, brilliant point. 

    Moreover, the first and every time Georgia fails to do so, Ms. Nelson should be able to handily win a Federal lawsuit under the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment.  

  • When I lived in GA, 1999-2001, they raised the driving age in the 5 counties including/surrounding Atlanta due to a bunch of spectacular crashes where kids were racing, etc.  Often in the new cars their parents bought for them and this was definitely around the time the high-centered SUV was king, though many of were traditional ‘mid-life crisis’ type cars that they bought for their kids.

    And it was always a ‘great tragedy’ when they ran their new car into a giant brick church sign, or playfully faked a swerve on the freeway that caused the girl he was flirting with to roll her new SUV.  I don’t recall jail time ever coming up for the survivors.

  • I’m not sure of the layout of the street, but this is really the fault of traffic engineers who should have put in more crosswalks to prevent this kind of stuff from happening. That said, this reeks of selective prosecution of a pedestrian; I have never seen a pedestrian prosecuted for this in my life before this.

    The Georgia DOT needs to fix this situation…or the local transit agency needs to better place its bus stops.

  • B4daylight

    autogenecide. 
     

    We live in a nation driven to kill and destroy. 

  • B4daylight

    ”When a pedestrian chooses to cross a divided highway … outside the protection of a crosswalk, she risks her own safety [as] well as the safety of those with her.”
     Which is true but as pointed out, If this is public domain (street) how far does one be forced to walk to cross a street. In GA that would be how far one is. 5 miles 10 miles. 

  • Nathanael

    1 – Does Georgia actually *have* a “traffic law” prohibiting people from crossing streets?  Most states *have no such law*.
    2 – Selective prosecution, as noted before.  It’s pretty clear she’s being convicted of Being Black In Georgia.

  • Nathanael

    Just checked Gerogia state law.  It appears that there is NO law prohibiting her from crossing the street.

    http://www.mcaleerlaw.com/CM/PedestrianAccidents/Georgia-Pedestrian-Traffic-Laws.asp

    The nearest intersection with lights to the north is at Roberta Dr./Cochrane Rd., several intersections away, and the nearest to the south is also several intersections away, so OCGA section 40-6-92, clause 3, does not apply.

    It seems clear that the only thing they could legally get her for would be failure to yield the right of way, and I’m pretty sure she tried to yield the right of way!

  • Nathanael

    From another article: “In this case, Nelson’s vehicular homicide conviction … was predicated
    upon her alleged pedestrian crossing violation under [Georgia statute].”

    Except there was no pedestrian crossing violation.

    Prosecutors attempting to enforce a law which doesn’t exist seems common in Georgia:

    http://buckhead.patch.com/articles/pedestrian-struck-by-drunk-driver-charged-for-illegally-crossing-roadway

  • That the offender, an intoxicated driver who had no business being on the road behind the wheel of a car, took a young boy’s life and served just six months, while the child’s mother, who was simply trying to get home after what was no doubt a long day by crossing the road across the street from where they lived (upon being let out of a bus stop far from a cross walk), had to stand two trials only to have the wrongful conviction of “vehicular homicide” upheld, despite not being the person behind of the wheel of the car that killed her boy is just shameful. Shame on our judicial system . Shame on our traffic laws. Shame on us.

    We’ve got lots of work to do to reverse the thinking of our autocentric society. We all deserve the right to go to work, school, or run errands and return home safely as well as a judicial system that upholds the laws that protect our rights.

    Raquel Nelson deserved that and was failed, on many, many levels.

    We have to work harder.

  • ashamedamerican

    I am ashamed to be an american.she lot her son,actually WATCHED him die. We are the laughing stock. This cannot be happening.do they have no real cases to pursue? Fuckn joke america

  • Linda Fullerton

    This is disgraceful. How can an intoxicated driver escape justice? 

  • She was jaywalking. Jaywalking has been against the law for as long as i can remember. Dont any of you remember crossing guards and learning how to cross the street?

  • Joe R.

    The nearest crosswalk was many blocks away. So you’re supposed to walk perhaps miles when you just want to get across the street? Really, she should sue the Georgia DOT for failing to provide proper crossing facilities (either a crosswalk or a pedestrian overpass). Given that a bus stop was across a street, it’s reasonable to assume people may wish to cross the street at that location.

  • khalil

    “She was jaywalking” gets pretty lame as an excuse for this legal travesty when combined with “The nearest crosswalk was many blocks away”.

    Separating people from destinations with huge streets lacking safe crosswalks is also a big issue in the Southwest. When I was my county’s traffic commission chair, we worked hard to avoid these “you can’t get there from here” problems that set people up to fail or in this case, to die.

    This sounds like Homicide by Bad Design to me,, and this is another example of both car-centricity and most likely, racism.

  • Scooter Livingston

    He was white.

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