Posted at 11:22 AM ET, 08/04/2011

Mother charged in jaywalking death of son chooses new trial over probation

Raquel Nelson wipes away tears as Cobb County State Court Judge Kathryn Tanksley delivers her sentence in Marietta, Ga. (LAURA MOON/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Raquel Nelson lost her child to an impaired driver who hit them both as they were crossing a highway. Then she almost lost her freedom when she was found guilty of second-degree vehicular homicide, reckless conduct and failure to use a crosswalk. She faced three years in prison.

Nelson was given two choices by a judge: community service and probation or a new trial. She’s going with the latter.

“This is for everyone,” Nelson said of her decision to Ann Curry on the “Today” show Thursday. “This is for, on a more personal level, myself, my children, single mothers, anybody who has to take public transportation, [and] this is for anyone who ever had to be in a scary situation like that.”

Nelson and her three children, including 4-year-old A.J., got off a bus in Georgia. Instead of going to the closest crosswalk three-tenths of a mile away, they crossed the median. When A.J. ran into the street, Nelson chased after him. They were both hit by Jerry Guy, who admitted to drinking and taking pain medication that day. A.J. was killed. Guy, who had been convicted of hit-and-run twice before, pleaded guilty to the charge once again. He served six months in prison.

The case sparked worldwide attention and condemnation. Molly Roberts wrote of her outrage for The Post’s PostPartisan blog.

“Nelson’s conviction shows an absurd incongruity in the justice system,” Roberts wrote. “A woman with no prior offenses faced more jail time than was served by a man who had already been convicted of two hit-and-runs, a man who admitted to consuming ‘a little’ alcohol along with some pain medication before hitting the road on the day he killed a child.”

Nelson is risking the freedom the judge granted her by going to trial again, but she’s willing to take a chance.

“With this whole process being very lonely up until about the last three weeks, when it became much more public — that's helped a tremendous amount,” she said. “Just to have the outpouring of support from you guys and everyone else in America and across the world. That's helped keep me up throughout this whole thing.”

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By  |  11:22 AM ET, 08/04/2011

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