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Raquel Nelson's Saga, Link by Link

Twitter and blogs have fueled international anger over the case of the Marietta mom convicted in her son's hit-and-run death.

Raquel Nelson will face sentencing Tuesday with the support not only dozens of people in the courtroom, but thousands across the Internet who know the Marietta mother only by her story.

Nelson when a Cobb County State Court judge sentences her for three misdemeanors—second-degree vehicular homicide, reckless conduct and crossing a roadway elsewhere than a crosswalk—in the death of her 4-year-old son, A.J., who was killed by a hit-and-run driver April 10, 2010, while trying to cross busy Austell Road between a bus stop and their apartment complex.

Such a long sentence would be unusual for misdemeanors, but the mere possibility that Nelson could serve more time behind bars than Jerry Guy, who drove the car that killed her son, has sparked growing outrage online. Under a plea deal, Guy received a five-year sentence and was released Oct. 29 after serving six months.

The story has grown from initial shock that a pedestrian could be convicted of vehicular homicide in her child’s death, to anger at pedestrian-unfriendly suburban sprawl, to disgust at government’s failure to account for the needs of the poor, to criticism that Nelson was not judged by her peers and suggestions that race played a factor.

Nelson, who is black, was convicted by an all-white jury whose members said they did not ride the bus except to reach an occasional Braves game at Turner Field.

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

Supporters from civil rights groups such as the Cobb County NAACP turned out Friday to rally for Nelson and are expected to appear en masse Tuesday for the sentencing before State Court Judge Kathryn Tanksley in Courtroom 3A.

This change.org petition had drawn more than 83,000 signatures as of 3 p.m. Monday. A second petition, with a goal of 10,000 signatures before the sentencing, had slightly fewer than 6,000 at 3 p.m. Monday.

Search Twitter for “Raquel Nelson” or “#raquelnelson” to see comments such as:

Below are further examples of responses to the Nelson case. Usually the reader comments are at least as interesting as the post itself:

Jason Wells July 26, 2011 at 07:46 AM
When are the voters of Cobb county going to put a stop to the good ol' boys justice system here. It's time to clean house....all the way up and down the food chain!
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'.

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