Ga. jaywalker freed in son’s hit-run death

Raquel Nelson was convicted of vehicular homicide. Raquel Nelson was convicted of vehicular homicide.
Associated Press / July 27, 2011

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MARIETTA, Ga. - 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 yesterday 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.

A crowd of supporters broke out in applause.

“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.’’

Prosecutors’ extremely rare decision to bring charges against the grieving mother had created a furor, with Nelson’s supporters calling the move cruel and heartless.

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 e-mails. top stories on Twitter

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