Nestande sentenced to 180 days in jail



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Posted on March 25, 2013 at 7:10 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 25 at 5:17 PM

AUSTIN -- A judge has made a final decision on the fate of former legislative aide Gabrielle Nestande.

The 25-year-old was sentenced to 180 days in jail on Monday. That time is added to a jury's recommendation to give her 10 years of probation, as well as paying a $10,000 fine.

"You have been given a second chance by this jury," Judge Karen Sage told Nestande Monday morning.

Last month, Nestande was convicted of criminally negligent homicide in the 2011 hit-and-run death of Courtney Griffin.

Judge Sage said despite the jury's conviction, she believes alcohol played a role in the hit and run death of Griffin. Nestande has also been ordered to complete 600 hours of community service in Travis County. She will be required to have a camera and ignition interlock in the car she is driving for the next four years. The judge says Nestande must wear an ankle monitoring bracelet, and she cannot go to any bars. She must also write a letter of apology to Griffin's family.

Probation already encompasses several requirements such as maintaining a residence, maintaining suitable employment, reporting to the Probation Department and complying with drug tests or counseling recommendations.

Following the judge's sentence ruling, Griffin's family members addressed Nestande. Griffin's mother, Laurie Griffin, called Nestande a murderer on the stand. She said Nestande left her daughter like "an animal in the streets" and that her only concern was to run and hide.

"You must live with the horrible image of my daughter's body on your windshield," said Griffin's mother.

“Our world after Courtney is consumed with pain, anger and despair that we feel every single day. I have trouble finding joy in anything. Being happy doesn't seem right anymore,” she said.

Griffin's father, Bart, also took the stand Monday. He said he would never understand how Nestande could leave his daughter on the side of the street. He said that if his daughter, Courtney, had been driving, she would have stopped and called for help.

"I miss Courtney's laugh," Bart said. "I'm struggling to remember it right now."

Bart Griffin said Nestande robbed his daughter of the gift of life. She wanted to donate organs, but couldn't since she was left in the street. Griffin said he hopes Nestande sees image of Courtney every single night when she lays her head on her pillow. He said he thinks Nestande knows exactly what happened, and he told Nestande when she's willing to tell the truth to come see him.

After Courtney's parents spoke, the judge expressed her "deep felt condolences" to the Griffin family.

Deputies then took Nestande into custody to being her 180 jail sentence.

Prosecutors say the punishment is appropriate.

"The judge put a lot of thought into the conditions she imposed on the defendant," said assistant district attorney Allison Wetzel.

In the weeks since her trial, a team of investigations have searched through evidence, developing a picture of who Nestande is now, who she was before her trial and what would be appropriate for her in the future.
"Generally the pre-sentence investigation will look at social aspects of the person, where they're from, where they live, family, type of work they may do, type of education they may have, [and] take into account any prior criminal history they have,” explained criminal defense lawyer Russ Sablatura.
Nestande's lawyer has said she plans to live in Austin after serving jail time and has already secured a job.

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