Nestande indicted on more serious charges in fatal hit-and-run



Posted on October 25, 2012 at 6:25 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 18 at 12:40 PM

AUSTIN -- A woman charged for a fatal hit and run accident last year now faces more charges.

Gabrielle Nestande, a former Capitol staffer, was indicted Wednesday. She was already awaiting trial on a lower-level felony.

The 25-year-old was originally charged with failure to stop and render aid after that crash in May 2011. Wednesday night, a Travis County Grand Jury handed down two new and much more serious charges. Family members of the victims are grateful to the witnesses who are now coming forward.

Nestande is now charged with manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter, both of which are second-degree felony crimes. She now faces up to 20 years in prison.

Police said Nestande had admitted to being in an accident in West Austin early on May 27. Neighbors found the victim, 30-year-old Courtney Griffin, dead on the side of the road hours later. Nestande's car was parked in a driveway half a mile away.

Griffin's father has been fighting for months for more serious charges against Nestande.

"We kept as much pressure as we possibly could on the DA's Office to keep looking, keep digging, keep fighting. They eventually found something," Bart Griffin said. "It was just an unbelievable feeling because this is something we've wanted from the beginning. The DA just didn't have enough evidence to prove intoxication, and it's very frustrating for all of us. It was such a great feeling once they found the evidence."

Prosecutors say new witnesses have come forward willing to tell the truth -- that Nestande was drinking May 27, 2011, when she struck and killed Griffin and left her to die on the side of the road in Tarrytown.

Nestande was arrested later that day at the State Capitol where she worked as an aide for a Texas lawmaker.

Nestande's lawyer, Perry Minton, didn't want to comment on camera but says they are disappointed with the new charges. He says they have been ready for trial and will now have to wait until next year.

Griffin's father says it's been a long road, but he now has new hope to see justice for his daughter.

A court hearing is set for Friday morning. Nestande was supposed to stand trial next week. That has been re-set for February of next year.