Guilt has been the prominent emotion dogging Candice Anderson in the past decade since her fiance, Gene Erickson, was killed in a 2004 car crash while she was driving. Yesterday, some of that guilt was alleviated when a Texas judge removed the criminally negligent homicide conviction from her record after determining her Saturn Ion was one of millions of GM vehicles recalled earlier this year for an ignition switch issue, the AP reports. "The crash involving Ms. Anderson is one in which the recall condition may have caused or contributed to the air bag nondeployment in the accident," a GM lawyer wrote in a letter released yesterday in Van Zandt County court. Anderson's lawyer blasted the company: "GM knew this defect caused this death, yet, instead of telling the truth, watched silently as Candice was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter," he tells the Detroit News.
"This has not been an easy road," Anderson says in a statement cited by the News. Her parents had to empty retirement accounts to pay for her attorney, and she was forced to pony up at least $10,000 more in fines and restitution—she avoided jail time through a plea deal and served five years' probation, the New York Times reports. She was "denied positions at numerous jobs" due to her record, she tells the News. And she sustained serious injuries herself, though she says most of the toll has been from the guilt she's felt since that day: Until the GM problems were revealed, she anguished over what part she played in her fiance's death, the Times notes. She tells the paper that the ruling will finally enable her to tell her two young daughters, "This is what happened, this horrible thing. And it wasn't mommy’s fault." (Recently uncovered GM emails don't help the company's case.)