The fatal hit and run trial of a former state legislative aide, Gabrielle Nestande, wrapped up a week of testimony Friday with tears from both sides in this tragic case. The words from the accused have made a big impact this week—even though she has not yet taken the stand.
Gabrielle Nestande has spent most of the week seated at the defense table struggling to keep her emotions in check. Almost 2 years ago, just a few blocks from the courtroom where she is now on trial Nestande met with police at the state Capitol office where she worked as a legislative aide.
"I am not supposed to say anything until I have a lawyer ... I was really scared ... exhausted," said Nestande in a video of her statement to APD investigators. The video runs about four minutes long and was introduced as evidence Friday afternoon. Officers wanted to know how her car got involved in a fatal hit and run in west Austin.
"I mean I've never been I a situation like this I mean me and the police so,…I'm so exhausted, yeah," said a visibly nervous Nestande.
At that point APD Sgt. Michael McCarter told the jury he had enough Probable Cause to charge Nestande with Failure to Stop and Render Aid. McCarter also testified how the trail that leads him to Nestande began earlier that day at the crime scene on Exposition. The video survey of the evidence found near the body of Courtney Griffin, along that roadway, was also shown to the jury.
McCarter said by the time they found Nestande's damaged car, she had already left for work. But he spoke to her boyfriend who explained what she told him about what happened to her.
"He claimed when she came home she had let herself into the apartment and she was crying and he asked her what had happened and she claimed that on her trip home somebody had thrown something at her windshield," said McCarter.
That story and her video statement made later to police seem to contradict what Nestande later told her sister after she was arrested. Their jailhouse phone conversation which was introduced into evidence late Thursday
"Did you, did you know at all, how drunk were you?" Asked Nestande's sister Francesca.
"Yes, I did know," answered Nestande.
You knew?" Francesca Nestande continued to ask.
"I wasn't, yes I did, I know what happened ... but don't say anything," said Gabrielle Nestande.
Nestande's attorneys say she will eventually testify in her own defense where her words from the stand will have to counter what they jury has already heard from her. She broke down in tears as testimony ended for the day.
The stress has also been difficult for Courtney Griffin's family especially when crime scene and autopsy reports were discussed late this afternoon. The ME said her injury was not survivable even if helped had arrived with minutes of being hit. The trial will continue Monday morning.