Raquel Nelson Granted New Trial

The path Nelson took from the bus stop on Austell Road to her apartment across the street. Image from T4America

Update 08/04/2011: It has come to our attention that the Raquel Nelson Legal Defense Fund does not appear to be set up at present. Details will be updated as facts are found.

Raquel Nelson, a thirty-year-old mother who was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide after a jaywalking incident, is now being granted a new trial.

Last April, Nelson crossed the street with her children at the bus stop rather than at the crosswalk three-tenths of a mile away. While crossing, a driver struck the family. Nelson and one of her daughters sustained minor injuries; her four-year-old son was killed. The driver, Jerry L. Guy, admitted to drug and alcohol use at the time of the accident and pleaded guilty to hit-and-run. He served only six months in prison. Nelson, on the other hand, was charged with several misdemeanors including second-degree vehicular homicide and faced up to 36 months in prison.

All because she did not cross at a crosswalk.

Ultimately, this was not a crime so much as a tragic accident brought about by several factors, among them bad planning and poor street design. With a four-lane speedway and no sidewalk or traffic light nearby, the area surrounding the bus stop created a hostile environment for pedestrians. In an article for MSNB, Scott Stump reveals, “Residents of Nelson’s apartment complex had previously complained to the city about the difficulty of getting home from the bus stop.” Yet no action was taken. While Nelson and Guy both played a part in the accident, the situation was largely set up by municipal oversight. It was an accident that could have happened to anyone.

Luckily, Nelson was granted an option to seek a new trial this past Tuesday. While Nelson is considering the offer, she remarked, “There's a part of me that doesn't want to go through this again." If she does not accept the new trial, she will serve a sentence of 12 months of probation and 40 hours of community service.

Support Raquel Nelson by signing the online petition, which has drawn more than 140,000 supporters, or donating to the Raquel Nelson Legal Defense Fund. Please make all checks out to:

Raquel Nelson Legal Defense Fund

Chase Bank

1050 E Piedmont Rd, Suite Y

Marietta, Georgia 30062

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For more on Nelson's case, see CNU's coverage at http://www.cnu.org/nelson

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