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On April 10, 2010, Raquel Nelson lost her 4-year-old son. Nelson was crossing a busy Marietta, Georgia, street with her son and his two siblings when they were struck by a hit-and-run driver. Police were able to track down the driver, Jerry Guy, who later admitted he had been drinking and had taken painkillers the night of the accident. He was also mostly blind in one eye. Guy had already been convicted of two prior hit-and-runs. He pleaded guilty, served six months of his five-year sentence, and was released last October.
If it ended there, this story would merely be tragic. But it gets worse. Last week Nelson herself was convicted on three charges related to her son's death: reckless conduct, improperly crossing a roadway and second-degree homicide by vehicle. Each is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in prison. Nelson could spend up to six times as many months in jail as the man who struck her son and then fled the scene. Nelson's crime: jaywalking.
A recent Pro Publica/Frontline investigation found prosecutors seem especially prone to find criminality -- then over-charge once they do -- in instances of child death, even when the evidence suggests the death was an accident.
What do you think? Should she have been charged? Should she have been found guilty? If not, why not? Would a white woman in a nicer neighborhood have been subjected to the same treatment?
I’m Sarah (39), wife to Chris (40), mom to three boys (age 0, 3 and 5)