Mom Is Spared Jail in Son's Jaywalking Death

She faced 3 years after her young child was killed by car
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 26, 2011 3:48 PM CDT
File photo of a pedestrian crosswalk.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A woman who was arrested after her 4-year-old son was struck and killed by a van as they were jaywalking across a busy street was spared a prison sentence today following an outcry over her arrest. Raquel Nelson, 30, was convicted by a jury earlier this month of vehicular homicide and other charges for not using a crosswalk and could have gotten three years behind bars—far more than the six months the hit-and-run driver served.

Instead, without explanation, Judge Kathryn Tanksley gave the suburban Atlanta mother a year's probation, ordered 40 hours of community service, and took the unusual step of offering her a new trial, an offer Nelson is considering. "I'm ready to go home," a relieved-looking Nelson said. "I'm walking out of here. I don't feel like I can be more satisfied." More than 125,000 people joined an online petition campaign asking for mercy. The Georgia branch of the NAACP called the case against the single black mother a "grave miscarriage of justice." And the judge said her office had been flooded with letters and emails from around the country.

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