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Convicted Mom: 'This Will Never End'

Marietta's Raquel Nelson takes her plea for mercy to the "Today" show a day before her sentencing in her son's death, caused by a hit-and-run driver.

The Marietta mother says she isn’t focusing on the possibility that she will serve more jail time than the drunken driver who killed her boy.

“I’ve had to accept that he’s gotten six months,” Raquel Nelson said on this morning’s Today show on NBC. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Under a plea deal, Jerry Guy served six months of a five-year sentence for hit-and-run in the child’s death April 10, 2010. It was his third hit-and-run conviction.

A judge Tuesday could sentence Nelson, 30, to a year behind bars for each of the three misdemeanors a jury convicted her of this month: second-degree vehicular homicide, reckless conduct and crossing a roadway elsewhere than a crosswalk.

A prison term of three years is highly unlikely for misdemeanors, but regardless of the sentence, Nelson said, “this will never end for me.”

She said the worst part of any prison sentence would be the separation from her two daughters.

“I think my other two daughters are the reason I was able to survive the situation,” Nelson said.

Loretta Williams, an aunt of Nelson’s who appeared with her on Today, said she hopes the judge is compassionate enough to let Nelson stay with her surviving children.

The girls were with Nelson when son A.J. darted into Austell Road that April evening and was fatally struck by Guy’s car. Nelson and one of her daughters also were hit and slightly injured.

Nelson and the children were crossing from their bus stop to their apartment complex after a grocery-shopping trip. The nearest crosswalk was a little more than 500 yards away.

Today’s Ann Curry asked why the family crossed in the middle of Austell Road, and Nelson said that even if they had gone to the crosswalk, they would have been forced to cross a dark side street to get home.

Following a common thread in , Nelson said she didn’t think the middle-class jury that convicted her represented her peers.

“I don’t think they could relate to what I was going through,” she said, because they didn’t use public transit and weren’t single mothers. “They’ve never really been in my shoes.”

Michael Jacobs July 25, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Hi, Jane: The driver has been convicted of three hit-and-runs, not DUIs. I can't comment on whether six months is appropriate for a third hit-and-run. We'll see what the judge does Tuesday.
Freda Bishop July 25, 2011 at 04:28 PM
What needs to happen is this same man who has been let off with nothing but a slap to the wrist. Needs to drive by the judges houses that are letting him off, run down one of there kids who happens to "dart" into the street. Than this drunken triple DUI fella will get what he rightfully deserves!!! Don't get me wrong, I'm not wishing death on no one, but if that's what it has to take to get these high paying judges to wake up, than so be it!!
Agustin July 25, 2011 at 05:20 PM
Only in Georgia! If you are white you can have a hundred DUI's and still have a driver's licence. You can kill any person of color and get away with it. Not only was the jury not of her peers, not one of them was of her race either. But, yet, we constantly hear of black jurys allowing blacks to go free, when indeed, white jurys has been letting white criminals of the hook since the days of the KKK. Let us hope that this kind of publicity will force the judge to have some compassion, but, don't be too hopeful, because these "good Old Boy are great at justifying their unequal kind of justice. He would use the excuse "I will not bow to the liberal media" rethoric to justify sending her to jail.
Pam J July 25, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Do you know what race the driver is? I don't think we know, so bringing race into this is not right. And the reason we have more white jury members is because they pull us from the voter's role and until Obama ran for President, there weren't that many blacks who were registered to vote in Cobb County. Not my opinion - just fact. And the guy that hit the little boy should be locked up for years, knowing his prior history. I agree about that. I also don't think the mother should have to spend time in jail, even though she did put her children in danger by what she did. No race issues should be brought into this because I don't think the driver of the car said "oh, there's a little black kid. Let's run him over". He was drunk, on medication and blind in one eye. Enough said about that. If the jury for the mother was all white, don't blame that on the white people. Blame that on the lawyers and the blacks who choose not to register to vote.
Pam J July 25, 2011 at 06:36 PM
There are tons of bus stops where there are no crosswalks. South Cobb Drive is a prime example of that. Remember last year or the year before when the mother and her children were crossing the road and got hit. They were on a hill, so the driver didn't see them until it was too late. I just saw a woman and two little kids trying to cross Powder Springs Road. They got stuck in the median and God only knows if they got across the other lanes okay. And I guess that if you hit and kill somebody while they are not in a crosswalk (and the little boy did run in front of the car), then your sentence will be shorter. As much as you don't want to defend this guy, you have to do it to a certain degree. It was dark and the little boy ran in front of a car. It really could have been you or me that hit him because when it's dark, I'm not really looking for people running in front of my car.
Pam J July 25, 2011 at 06:54 PM
Okay, I just watched the clip from the "Today" show. The guy that hit the little boy is black. Where do you want to go now?
William Hugart July 25, 2011 at 07:46 PM
I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by Fedex. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores.I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, http://BuzzSave.com
TruthSeeker July 25, 2011 at 08:23 PM
Before anyone else makes IGNORANT, borderline RACIST, and just plain FALSE comments about juror lists and blacks not being registering to vote, the TRUTH is: FEDERAL LAW mandates that every county’s jury box contain the same percentage of black and white, male and female, residents as existed in the last census. In Ga, the county clerks compile the jury box from VARIOUS SOURCES: drivers licenses, property tax records, and voter registration, etc. And there’s been recent legislation in Ga to ensure the list is even more INCLUSIVE so as to comply with federal law. I work for a court and I’ve seen many people (black AND white) who do not register to vote because they erroneously believe that will get them out of jury duty. By the way, it is also FACT that the percentage of eligible citizens who actually do register to vote has steadily increased among ALL racial and ethnic groups and young people (especially in 2008). There are now, and always have been, many black voters in Cobb County (maybe they just don’t live in your neighborhood or go to your church). People need to do their own research on FACTS and educate themselves instead of spouting off nonsensical garbage fabricated in their own head from their very LIMITED viewpoint. SMH!
SarahS July 25, 2011 at 08:31 PM
The driver of the vehicle was also black. Not that I think that makes any difference. Regardless of race what the driver did is way worse than the mistake that the mother did. http://www.hinterlandgazette.com/2010/04/jerry-l-guy-arrested-in-hit-and-run.html
Tipper July 25, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Looking at the aerial photo, it sure seems like the municipality put the bus stop where it did with the expectation that people who lived in those apartments would cross the street there.
Kathy July 26, 2011 at 01:16 AM
Hasn't the mother suffered enough? She lost her son! How can the judge put this woman behind bars and separate her from her other children who need her the most now since they are also dealing with the loss of a sibling? I honestly can say I am ashamed that the "justice system" is focusing on when she has suffered so much.
Socialist Worker July 26, 2011 at 01:53 AM
There was "probabley" a light there? Why should she take responsibility for the actions of a drunk behind the wheel? If you get raped should you take responsibly for being "available for rape"? This is a case of turning the victim into the criminal. Why not just write a new driver handbook that states drunks have the right of way and that pedestrians who are injured by drunks are violating state motor vehicle law. In many states drunks must have special equipment installed at their expense that will not allow them to start their vehicle without a breathalyzer test.
Pam J July 26, 2011 at 01:54 AM
Yes, she lost a son because she was trying to cross a busy road in the dark. It was a horrible accident but one that could have been avoided. I feel sorry for her and her remaining children, but our "justice system" is hopefully trying to make sure this doesn't happen again, although it will because people will still have little regard for their childrens' lives when trying to cross a busy highway. My mother and I were on the Marietta Square the other day and it never occurred to me to try to cross the road where there wasn't a crosswalk. But a family tried it and nearly got hit by two cars. I see it every day. With all the distractions facing drivers today, pedestrians need to be even more mindful.
Laura July 26, 2011 at 02:32 AM
Pam - how about the DRIVERS not being distracted by say, drinking? Taking medication? Even though this mom shouldn't have crossed where she did, the driver killed a human being, a child! That driver should have been a lot more mindful, don't ya think???
Pam J July 26, 2011 at 02:49 AM
It was just horrible luck for everybody that the car that hit the little boy was driven by this man. But let me ask you this - if you are driving down a busy four-lane highway, in the right lane, and there is a truck of some kind beside you in the left lane, and you cannot see the people in the median (it's dark too, remember), and all of a sudden a child darts into the road and you can't see him because of the truck next to you, or simply because it's dark (and, yes, we probably need to mention that he was dark-skinned too). Do you think you should be held responsible if you hit that child because you couldn't see him? Or would that just be called a terrible accident? Children that age do all kinds of things they shouldn't. If we take the drunk driver out of the mix for a minute, a four-year-old child running into two lanes of traffic is not good. And even if the driver had stopped, he could not have saved that child. I am not defending him, I'm just saying that it was bad luck all around.
Socialist Worker July 26, 2011 at 03:05 AM
They should rename it the injustice system. If there is someone who should take blame here its the transportation system officials for placing a bus stop somewhere without a cross walk and lights. Not doing that and the decision to prosecute her show the contempt these state officials have for the working class. We need to do what they did in Cuba 50 years ago.
Trina Atwell July 26, 2011 at 03:11 AM
Pam I only hope that we have more perfect people like you in the world. You know the kind that can sit back and judge a single mother that is only trying to raise her children. Maybe once you remove the thorn crown and the nail holes in your hands and feet heal you can understand those who aren't as perfect.
Shellie July 26, 2011 at 04:58 AM
I can't believe the legal system in Georgia. Six months for a three time convicted hit and run driver, one who was under the influence of alcohol and medication. Doesn't that mean anything in the eyes of the law and the legal system? Of course, the woman should not have been crossing, with three children, in the middle of traffic. And, if NECCESSARY, in the eyes of this Judge and Jury, she was convicted, do you think she should be put in jail, for any time, let alone three years, after the driver, who actually hit and killed the child, had a plea deal and received six months? Where is the justice in the system, here? How many times have they used this type of punishment for this type of situationj, or have they ever? Do they think that now is the time, to use this person and situation to make a statement to everyone else? One of the statements they are making, is that it's Ok to drink and drive and to hit and kill someone, who is crossing in the middle of the road. They will be offered deals and not have to do much time at all. The other statement is that, there is no compassion and fairness shown. Especially in these situations, and especially by these jurors, who may have at one time done the same thing, and were lucky enough not to have anything happen. I am hoping that this judge, in her knowledge of the law, also has the same compassion and understanding, in the types of punishments, these people live with, for the rest of their lives, already. I hope so.
doug July 26, 2011 at 07:49 AM
Whoaaaaaa! Did I read this story correctly? Jerry Guy, the man who killed the boy and then ran.....served 6 months of a 5 yr sentence and then gets out of jail in a plea deal. AND he has been convicted of hit and run twice before he killed the boy. I can't believe this. I wonder if the people who agreed to this plea deal sleep well? They shouldn't
Jason Wells July 26, 2011 at 07:54 AM
Many of the judges are corrupt and have been there so long that nobody dares try to unseat them. The judges contribute to each other's campaigns, and lawyers who appear before them contribute as well. The prosecutors are just an extension of the judges, and charge for anything and everything they can think of. One of the judges threw and 87 year old woman in prison for 3 years recently for a genuine accident where she hit a child. Thank God the GA Board of Pardons and Paroles saw the lunacy in that and let her out in just under 90 days. This is the kind of stuff that happens here! The county has a 98% conviction rate, and I can assure you it isn't because 98% of people are guilty. They're scared to death to go to trial because of this exact type of case and plead just to get probation and try to pick up the pieces. As for the guy driving the car, I'm not concerned about him. The probation officers are well-known for harassment and throwing you back in jail for reasons that would be laughable anywhere else. For those of you who 'ASS'ume that if a jury convicts there must have been a good reason, or if someone is charged there must be a good reason, or if someone is arrested there must be a good reason, you do yourself and society a disservice....and you DEFINITELY don't understand Cobb County, Georgia. Should you ever find yourself sucked into the "system" in Cobb County (it doesn't take much), God help you. Your attitude will change 'right quick'.
Pam J July 26, 2011 at 12:58 PM
Cobb County pulls their juriy pools from voter's registration and driver's licenses. So it's possible that a lot of her peers are poor and don't have cars and driver's licenses. When I was on a jury a couple of years ago, there were only three or four blacks in the whole voter pool of what had to be 100 people, so it is bad for blacks being on trial in Cobb because I don't think they will ever have a jury that is half black. And you can blame her attorney and the DA for the jury she had. They have control over who gets picked.
Dave July 26, 2011 at 01:27 PM
Hit and run for a THIRD TIME and he walked in 6 months, and this woman, who simply made a mistake that cost her her son's and nearly her life is facing 3 years. This country is awesome, but our legal system is absolutely backwards. This lady has suffered enough. What they should do is fry the a-hole who decided to get behind a wheel hopped up on meds and booze, for a THIRD TIME! Eradicate the world of this element.
CTPati July 26, 2011 at 06:02 PM
SW was (strangely, for him) making sense (for once) until 11 p.m last night, saying "...We need to do what they did in Cuba 50 years ago." I'll bite, sw---what did do "in Cuba" that was good, and that relates at all to this discussion?!!
Ellen T July 26, 2011 at 07:46 PM
So sad. So sad. Taking a mother away from her children while they're grieving is a double tragedy. My daughter is a lawyer and she doesn't like criminal law because of cases like this. The mother will live with this guilt for the rest of her life. Only God can heal her broken heart. The justice system sends her to a correctional system which is suppose to "correct her behavior"? As a school counselor, I counseled kids who have lost a sibling or a parent but what does one say to a child in a situation like this? Let's pray for a miracle and that God will speak to the Judges' heart and allow the mom to go home to her children. Let us pray and not judge her cause God is the only true judge.
Pam J July 26, 2011 at 08:38 PM
Oh, give me a break. I am not perfect, but I have a fair amount of common sense. And what you said about me is just downright mean.
Anonymous5000 July 26, 2011 at 09:09 PM
This is so sad and angers me at the same time. Our justice system is broke and anyone who cannot see that is a fool! The man who hit the little boy should have gotten a longer sentence than 5 years, let alone serving 6 months! 3 Hit and Runs - that in and of itself - without the death of the little boy - should have got him a 5 year sentence. Add in the little boy's death - vehicular manslaughter - he should have been looking at 15-20 years PERIOD. The Mother should not have been prosecuted AT ALL - she has suffered the greatest punishment imaginable. GA law is absolutely and unequivocally ridiculous. The jurors should have participated in JURY NULLIFICATION and sent a message about how wrong this is and not convicted her of anything. May God be with her and her family during this extremely difficult time, and may the driver answer for this horrendous act and his callous behavior.
jojo July 26, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Registered voters have absolutely nothing to do with the composition of juries, it comes down to lawyers have the constitutional right to basically exclude jurors on the premise of race in additional to some other factors. This ruling went all the way to the supreme court and the court upheld it. Basically a DA can strike someone from the jury pool because they are black as well as any other factors such as the person has long hair, mustache, goatee, tattoo or any other nonsensical characteristic. Get your facts straight before blaming on registered voters and know the law. Read Michelle Alexander's the New Jim Crow, written by a law professor, at Ohio State which outlines all the ridiculous bias practices condoned by the criminal justice system. Sounds to me like the county wanted to paint a picture of a reckless mother so they would not get sued for poor city planning.
jojo July 26, 2011 at 10:39 PM
Apparently only one person on the jury had ever ridden public transportation prosecutors know what they are doing when they select jurors trust me.
Darrin Keener July 27, 2011 at 05:29 AM
I cannot comprehend why the driver of the vehicle is not being charged with manslaughter. Did this child not die as the result of being struck by a vehicle driven by a man who admitted doing this? Is there anyone who can explain to me why these charges haven't been filed? Also, I'd like to know if there has been any fund set up to help this woman?
Pam J July 27, 2011 at 01:32 PM
The child ran out in front of the car, so technically it wasn't the fault of the driver. What the driver did do, leave the scene and be drunk, is what got him arrested. I think that if he had stayed and not been drunk this would have been a different story.

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