Jaywalking Mother Avoids Prison Time After Son Was Killed
It was a dramatic moment in court when a tearful mom learned her fate, and you won't believe the charges against her.
Raquel Nelson faced more prison time for jaywalking than the man convicted for the hit-and-run accident that killed her son.
"I was stunned," Nelson said of her reaction.
The tragedy happened in Marietta, Georgia. Nelson and her three kids had just gotten off at a bus stop and tried to cross a busy four-lane highway without using a crosswalk to get home. That's when a van plowed into them.
"I didn't see what it was that hit us, but I felt it. I felt metal on my forehead and it knocked me down to my knees and when I got up I was like, 'Oh my God, where's A.J.?' " Nelson said.
A.J., her four-year-old son, had been struck and killed. The van's driver, Jerry Guy, fled the scene.
It turned out he already had two prior hit-and-run convictions. He pleaded guilty to the hit-and-run that left A.J. dead and was sentenced to just six months in prison.
But Nelson's nightmare wasn't over. While grieving for her son, she was charged with jaywalking and vehicular homicide. Suddenly, she faced a maximum of three years in jail.
"Why does he still have a license and then I'm facing three years?" Nelson asked.
Her aunt, Loretta Williams, couldn't believe it.
"She wasn't driving the car, she was actually hit by the car. We were just flabbergasted," Williams said.
The outrage spread across the nation. An internet petition supporting Nelson received more than 148,000 signatures in just 48 hours.
But Nelson was convicted by a jury. At her sentencing Tuesday, Judge Kathryn Tanksley took pity on her and gave Nelson a choice: 12 months probation or a whole new trial.
Her family thinks the judge showed true compassion.
"She is our hero. We are very grateful to her open and warm heart," said Williams.
Nelson is still stunned by the loss of her son and what happened to her just because of jaywalking.