Georgia mom Raquel Nelson was spared prison today in the sentencing phase of the jaywalking conviction she faced after her son was killed in a hit-and-run. Nelson could have ended up spending more time in jail than the man who ran over her four-year-old son and sped off after a jury convicted her of jaywalking. “I’m walking out of here. I don’t feel like I can be more satisfied,” she said, according to CBS News. “I’m ready to go home.”
Judge Kathryn Tanksley gave Nelson a year of probation and 40 hours of community service, and also surprisingly offered her a new trial and the opportunity to clear her name. Nelson crossed a busy street between her bus stop and her apartment building with her three young children on a night last spring. Nelson and her four-year-old son, AJ, were hit by Jerry Guy, who admitted to drinking earlier that day and who had been convicted in two earlier hit-and-runs.
Guy served six months in prison for the crime. But then a jury convicted Nelson of vehicular homicide and jaywalking for not walking the three-tenths of a mile to the nearest crosswalk that night. She faced the possibility of serving six times the sentence of the man who ran over her child. (City planners have asked why a public bus stop would be located at such a great distance from a safely demarcated crosswalk in the first place.)
“I think to come after me so much harder than they did him is a slap in the face because this will never end for me,” she said on the Today Show yesterday. She said she feared the separation from her remaining kids if she was put in jail. “It’s three years away from the two that I have left.”