More than 140,000 petitioners on change.org pleaded for the mercy of the Cobb County State Court on a hearing Tuesday over the sentencing of a woman whose 4-year-old son was killed in 2010, jaywalking before dusk across a road to their home, from which the closest crosswalk was more than 1500 feet away.
The woman was granted 1-year probation along with 40 hours of community service, instead of the 36-month sentencing originally considered. Judge Katherine Tanksley also offered the grieving mother Raquel Nelson another chance to clear her name through a new trial.
The leniency petition, to release the grieving 30-year-old mother from jail and to install a crosswalk, began only 8 days before the Tuesday morning hearing and has collected over 140,000 petitioners. The mother of two other daughters had been convicted since earlier this month, because of the incident on Austell Road, on three misdemeanors-second-degree vehicular homicide, crossing roadway elsewhere than at crosswalk, and reckless conduct.
At the twilight hours of April 10, 2010, Nelson and her children got off at a Cobb County Transit bus stop across the street from her apartment. In their hurry to make it home before dark, Nelson decided to not walk to a crosswalk so far away and just cross the street to get home. A.J., her son, broke free from her grasp and sped out from the median where they had been waiting, but was unfortunately met by a driver who is suspected to have been impaired. The driver, after taking the child's life, sped off then later admits to the police of his involvement. He was sentenced to 60 months in prison but only served there for 6 months and have spent the remainder of his sentence out on probation. This was not his first offense in regards to driving while impaired.
Nelson was given an option to re-trial because her previous trial had 6 jurors, all middle-class caucasians. NAACP and other transportation advocates argued that the jurors may have been biased with their lack of bus-riding experience and their racial difference with Nelson.