Gabrielle Jane Nestande DUI Death Trial: 10 Reasons Jurors Might Acquit
|Gabrielle Nestande on the stand in Austin Tuesday.|
- In their closing arguments, defense attorneys noted prosecutors did not bring forth manslaughter charges until they interviewed witnesses a year after the accident. Witnesses said Nestande appeared drunk at the Clive Bar, but they did not spend enough time with her to make such a call, and their stories could have changed over time. If, as three witnesses testified, Nestande had been falling down drunk, how did she make it to work less than 12 hours later? Why did an Austin police investigator fail to note signs of her being hungover when he questioned her that same morning in Christian's office? Why was her blood not taken?
- Defense attorney Perry Minton said the state therefore did not present enough evidence to show Nestande had been drunk or consciously negligent while driving. "If we don't know, and we can't get beyond a reasonable doubt," he told jurors, "then we don't need to convict that young girl of anything."
- Noting a defense accident-reconstruction expert testified Griffin wore dark clothing while out on her walk, Nestande's attorney Sam Bassett said, "Many drivers--sober, normal drivers--would have a difficult time seeing pedestrians under normal circumstances; that's more than a reasonable doubt. That is not guilty." Nestande's decision not to stop made sense for a young woman alone on a dark night, he said.
- Minton cautioned jurors against weaving anti-DUI sentiments into their decision. "It is easy to be angry at her," he conceded. "You read about these all the time. There were two of these same kinds of accidents this week. You get it in your mind we have to stop this. This is not your job. If it ain't there, it ain't there." Outside the courtroom, the defense team has said that a conviction could set a dangerous precedent because people could be locked up for DUI without hard evidence such as blood-alcohol content.
Just so you know everything jurors took into deliberations this morning (besides the points raised here), prosecutors in their closing arguments and rebuttal described Nestande and her friends as privileged people from a "culture of entitlement," people who "like to work hard and play hard, and Courtney paid the price for that." Her friends were evasive or measured with their answers to authorities to protect one another. Gabby, a 2006 Newport Beach deb, in particular was portrayed as selfish, self-centered and more worried about her predicament than having taken a life. She knew she'd hit someone right away, and then "went to her boyfriend's house to hide her car, to get in his bed and pull the covers over her head, and go right to sleep." Griffin, meanwhile, died alone, without loved ones there to hold her hand. Nestande did not call police because she did not want to go to jail. From jail, she called her sister in Newport Beach and said she was not drunk and knew "exactly what happened." Assistant District Attorney Mary Farrington, noting Nestande first told her boyfriend someone threw something at her car and later told friends she hit a deer, keyed in on that quote: "She knew exactly what happened, and that is why her story kept changing."
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