Pierce County Mother Found Not-Guilty of Vehicular Homicide
On Wednesday, June 29th, Attorney Aaron A. Nelson and his legal defense team secured a verdict of not guilty on three counts of felony vehicular homicide and one misdemeanor count of reckless driving, causing bodily harm. As the verdicts were read, the defendant and her defense team wept.
In December 2013, Nelson’s client suffered a severe brain injury following a crash that killed her daughter and two young nieces. Only she and her three year old son survived. Prosecutors charged her with sending messages via Facebook, causing the crash. Nelson and his team spent months reviewing evidence, interviewing witnesses and speaking with experts as they prepared for trial. While the media and much of the public had already convicted her in their minds, Nelson and his team were convinced that the tragic crash was caused by a combination of poor road conditions and badly worn tires, and not inattentive driving.
As evidence was presented at trial, pictures of the crash showed a roadway with snow and slush spilling into the driving lane. Recorded 911 calls reported icy conditions, stating that the client’s vehicle appeared to have hit a patch of ice and spun out of control. Investigators confirmed the vehicle had extremely worn tires, though still considered legal.
Finally, questions about the accuracy of time stamps and their proximity to the crash and questions regarding how the messages were input into the phone and by whom were presented to the jury. The trial was scheduled to go five days and after just three, the defense, having called no witnesses, rested. It took the jury only two hours to find the defendant not guilty of all charges against her.
As each charge was read aloud, and the verdicts declared, it was impossible to ignore the surge of emotions that overcame the defendant and her legal team. After three long years, this single mother, her son and family, who have all endured so much suffering, were finally free to begin healing in private. Nelson has stated many times that there is no “winning” in a case involving death. However, there is a sense of relief and the reality that now this family can finally take steps to move forward.