The Long Island mom who took matters into her own hands to track down her son’s bullies and ran over a 15-year-old twice was acquitted of attempted murder by a jury of her peers earlier this week.
The jury trial of Jennifer Nelson, now 36, began in mid-September and ended Tuesday with Nelson’s acquittal on second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault charges.
When the mom from Shirley, New York, was indicted in February, Nelson was also accused of leaving the scene without reporting and accident that resulted in serious physical injuries (i.e, multiple broken ribs and pelvis fractures), a Class E felony. That was the only offense she was convicted of committing, court records show.
Suffolk District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney, whose office is currently prosecuting the suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer, previously slammed the “adult” mom for thinking that “she could take the law into her own hands” by bringing a bat and a knife with her on Oct. 7, 2022 to a parking lot near William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach to confront the bullies who allegedly broke her son’s nose and concussed him.
“This defendant’s incredibly misguided attempt to avenge the alleged victimization of her own child is no excuse,” Tierney said in February when explaining the second-degree attempted murder charge. “Citizens cannot take the law into their own hands, and should instead work with law enforcement and my office to seek justice in every case.”
Nelson believed that the 15-year-old was part of the group of teens bullying her son and even robbing the boy of his sneakers and AirPods, prosecutors said. But charges were only brought against two other teens in connection with the robbery.
“She believed that students who participated in a robbery targeting her son earlier that day, were still present at the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, and she allegedly wanted to confront them,” the DA’s office said. “Once in the parking lot, Nelson threatened a group of students while brandishing a knife and a small bat. During this incident, the victim left the parking lot and walked across the street to the parking lot of Manhattan Bagel.”
When the 15-year-old walked away, Nelson followed him “at a high rate of speed, and drove directly at the victim who was standing in the parking lot,” running over him twice, prosecutors alleged.
Later on the day of the incident, Nelson traded in her leased Honda SUV even though the lease had not expired, which the DA interpreted as an attempt to conceal the vehicle used in the offense.
Newsday reported that Nelson testified at trial that she did not know she ran over the teen.
“I would have called the police if I knew I hit someone,” she said.
Asked by Newsday after the verdict how she felt hearing the words “not guilty” twice on the most serious charges she faced, Nelson said, “I don’t know. I’m just happy with the outcome.”
“I did feel relief because this has been a lot, you know, on me, my son, just everybody involved, it’s been a lot,” she added.
Later in the interview, Nelson said that though she didn’t visibly react in court to the verdicts, as instructed by her lawyer, her heart was racing.
“I was checking my watch as it was telling me my heart rate was, like, over 130,” she said.
In summary, what began as a case that could have put Nelson behind bars for up to 25 years ended with a conviction that could result in 1 to 4 years of punishment and a fine “not less than one thousand nor more than five thousand dollars in addition to any other penalties provided by law.”
Nelson’s lawyer Katherine Fernandez said that, given her client’s lack of a prior criminal record, the judge could sentence her to probation for the “E non-violent felony.”
Judge Timothy P. Mazzei set sentencing for 9 a.m. on Dec. 4, court records show.
You can watch Nelson and Fernandez react to the acquittal in the Newsday video below: