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.