Marietta woman denied bid in vehicular homicide ruling
by Lindsay Field
April 18, 2013 12:27 AM | 5680 views | 10 10 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As she sits at the defendant's table, Raquel Nelson comforts her younger brother Emoni Love as he breaks down in tears after speaking on her behalf during her sentencing hearing on July 26.
As she sits at the defendant's table, Raquel Nelson comforts her younger brother Emoni Love as he breaks down in tears after speaking on her behalf during her sentencing hearing on July 26.

The Supreme Court of Georgia has denied a Marietta woman’s petition to look at whether the vehicular homicide law can be applied to pedestrians.

Raquel Nelson was charged in April 2010 after her 4-year-old son, A.J. Newman, was struck and killed by a drunken driver as she and the boy were crossing Austell Road near Somerpoint Apartments in Marietta.

The Supreme Court decision was made Monday with a 4-2 vote.

“While we certainly would have liked the Supreme Court to review the vehicular homicide statute application to pedestrians, we now look forward to being back before the trial judge with the intention to retry Ms. Nelson’s case,” Nelson’s attorney, Steve Sadow, said Wednesday.

A jury found Nelson guilty of second-degree vehicular homicide, jaywalking and reckless conduct in July 2011.

Sadow petitioned the Supreme Court after the Georgia Court of Appeals denied his argument that there wasn’t enough evidence to go through with a new trial this past fall.

According to police records, Nelson had just gotten off a bus along the five-lane Austell Road and reportedly led her three children across the median, instead of walking to a crosswalk three-tenths of a mile away.

Jerry Guy of Marietta, who had been drinking earlier in the day and was also on pain medication, hit the youngest child.

He pleaded guilty to hit-and-run and was sentenced to six months in prison. He had two previous hit-and-run convictions in 1997.

Nelson was sentenced to a year’s probation and 40 hours community service but was offered the option of a new trial, which she later accepted. In October 2011, she appealed the charges in Cobb State Court, during which Judge Kathryn Tanksley agreed to dismiss the reckless conduct charge. In spring of 2012, she filed an appeal with the Georgia Court of Appeals for insufficient evidence, which was denied in September.

A date for the new trial still has not been set.

New problems for mother

Nelson was arrested again this past August on charges of fleeing from police, speeding, expired/no tag and illegal window tint, all misdemeanors.

According to Cobb Police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce, two motorcycle officers on Cobb Parkway measured her as driving 64 mph in a 45-mile-per-hour zone.

The officers motioned her to pull over, but she drove around them and pulled into the campus of Southern Polytechnic State University. Officers began searching the area when construction workers pointed them towards the back part of a parking lot, where they found her parked behind another vehicle.

The four justices in the majority opinion were Hugh Thompson, Harris Hines, Harold Melton and David Nahmias.

Justices Carol Hunstein and Robert Benham were not in favor of denying the request, and Justice Keith Blackwell did not participate in the vote.


Comments-icon Post a Comment
July 31, 2013
Where I live (on the other side of the pond), this is simply... unreal.

Like Kafka unreal.

The American is very, very flawed; perhaps not in general, but it is systematically dysfunctional in large parts.

Resulting in flagrant and utterly unnecessary injustice like this.

Fire the engineers
April 19, 2013
We need to fire our civil planners who engineered the stage on which all these people became hapless actors

Perhaps we can get some civic engineers who prefer people's lives over convenience
Huh? Oh Cobb County
April 18, 2013
I had to read the article again... a drunk guy runs over a kid, leaves the scene hit and run with a child murder... and gets 6 months. And Cobb County decides to charge the mother and try and put her in jail for longer than the drunk driver, ruin her life, try to remove her from the family and her other children? This doesn't add up, that is until i see the ladies picture then it becomes VERY clear. And for what... because she crossed the street instead of walking 1/2 mile extra? If someone is walking to the bus stop every day you know they are going to take the short trip across the highway over a 1/2 mile loop.
tired of it
April 20, 2013
Why don't you just say what you mean "Huh?oh cobb county", , THis mom, and yes I am a mom, chose to walk in the middle of a road instead of walking to the cross walk, where any responsible parent would do, yes the driver should be charged and prosecuted but if the mom had taken the time to walk to the crosswalk the kid would probably be alive today. But I do believe that the drunk driver with priors should have received a worse sentence than the mother. But she does bare some responsibility of her child being in the road and getting hit, yes we all make mistakes but actions have consequences.
April 18, 2013
She broke the law plain and simple. She needs to be held accountable. I am tired of her wasting the courts time.
Not rocket science
April 18, 2013
The law is the law. Period. Cross the street at cross walks only. Is it really that hard? I do whatever I have to do to protect my kids. Why couldn't she? That's not to say that the drunk driver still couldn't have struck the innocent child, but the mother wouldn't be able to waste tax payers dollars because she was too lazy to go to the cross walk and NOT break the law. As for the drunk driver who killed someone, seems to me like he should have gotten much more than 6 months, especially when this is the 3rd time it's happened.
April 18, 2013
I would think there would be equal blame in this case between the driver and the mother. Who's to say that if he wasn't drunk that he could have avoided the child? If she get's jail time then he definitely should get it as well!!!
Just Wait
April 18, 2013
In this particular case, the condition of the driver who struck this child makes no difference. The fact that the child was allowed to dart into traffic is the causal factor. That is the mother's responsibility. As "it aint right" correctly states, it was her decision and she must take the responsibility. Don't blame the location of the bus stop or the crosswalk. We all make individual decisions every day and too often try to blame others when we decide wrong.
still aint right
April 19, 2013
We as a society gave her two awful choices, she took the choice that was less bad, something bad happened, so now we want to put her in jail and oh by the way take care of her children for her while she's in jail. We are SO smart around here.

We act like a child could not possibly have got run over if she walked the extra mile every time she took her kids somewhere! Seriously?

How about all y'all "cross at the cross walk" people actually go walk somewhere? This aint' the city where the crosswalk is a walkable distance!! This ain't Athens! It aint' campus! MOst people here won't even walk from one end of a shopping center to the other! They DRIVE because it's TOO FREAKIN FAR!
it aint right
April 18, 2013
We build a bus stop across a big highway from apartments and then prosecute this lady for her child getting run over by a drunkard behind the wheel, and then when she says "ima gonna be in the privileged-behind-the-wheel club too since public transit designed to kill" we throw the book at her for that too.

I have no problem throwing the book at people for misuse of the automobile (just don't ask me what constitutes "misuse" because you won't like it), however i DO have a problem with us implementing a public transit system designed to make people not want to use it by it being slow as all hell and difficult and even dangerous (see the South Marietta Pkwy and the bus station on the OTHER side of it from where people live), and then hassling them for nothing more than using public transit the way we designed it.

Some would say "the cross walk was only a quarter mile up the road." That is a half mile walk to the bus, a half mile walk back home, for a whole mile round trip with three kids in tow along the very road where the kid got run down by a drunkard behind the wheel.

Which action was less safe for that lady to take every day? Walking a MILE along that road or walking directly across it twice? Can anyone really say? Hell no we cannot. Both choices are insanely dangerous, but we want to tie her to the stake and burn her for choosing one of the choices we gave her. Shame on all of us.

I hope our daily convenience of driving everywhere we feel like going was worth her child's life and her legal problems caused by a interacting with a drunk driver, and I hope our driving everywhere is worth all the other lives and limbs and organs and skin and lost and burned.

More people died THIS WEEK on Metro Atlanta roads than were killed in Afghanistan or Iraq or the Boston Marathon, but we still put on our sunglasses, grab our portable computer, get behind the wheel, start surfing/texting, drinking a big gulp, eating a chicken biscuit, and sort of driving but mostly going on auto pilot. Hey why not. It's just people and families that suffer. Who cares, right? Our convenience is FAR more important!
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