Posted on October 26, 2012 at 4:14 PM
Friday, Oct 26 at 4:14 PM
AUSTIN -- The former Legislative aid accused of hitting and killing an Austin woman went to court Friday for a pre-trial hearing.
Gabrielle Nestande, 25, is facing three charges linked to the fatal crash. She entered a Not Guilty plea and the judge set a trial date for Feb. 11.
The state just re-indicted Nestande this week, adding two new charges to her trial: manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter. Prosecuting attorneys say they got some new evidence a week ago.
"In order to prove intoxication manslaughter, there's got to be evidence to prove intoxication. So we felt like the evidence we have is sufficient to prove intoxication," said prosecuting attorney Allison Wetzel.
The victim's family watched as Nestande walked into court with her lawyer. Bart Griffin's daughter, Courtney, died in May of last year after Nestande allegedly hit her on the side of the road in Tarrytown but never stopped.
Nestande’s trial on initial charges of failure to stop and render aid was set to begin next Monday. However this week prosecutors presented witnesses to a grand jury who testified that Nestande was drinking before the crash. That's when the two new charges were added.
In court on Friday prosecutors and Nestande’s lawyer agreed to push the trial to mid-February.
Nestande's new charges are news Courtney's family has been praying for.
"We knew she was out drinking the night before. We had strong feelings that there needed to be more charges, and there were, and we could not be happier about that," Bart Griffin said.
Courtney's mother is grateful to those who come forward with the new information.
"Thank you. Thank you, and thank you," Laurie Leach-Griffin said. "This really came as a big, big surprise, and we cannot be any more grateful."
“The family needs to get this behind us,” said Bart Griffin afterward. “Hopefully on February 11th, when the trial commences, we'll get this all out and we'll get a conviction.”
Griffin's family had a strong support group by their side during Friday’s hearing. The family of Mark Gobble, a jogger killed by a hit-and-run driver earlier this year, also attended the hearing.
Nestande faces up to 20 years in prison with these new charges. Both are second degree felonies.