Nestande taken into custody after facing victim's family

Nestande taken into custody after facing victim's family

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A Travis County judge does what a jury didn't do; hand down a jail term to Gabrielle Nestande Monday.

The former legislative aide will spend six months in jail as part of her 10 year probated sentence for fatally running over Courtney Griffin IN 2011.

Judge Karen Sage outlined the terms of Nestande's ten year probated sentence this morning. And if she violates any of them, Judge Sage says she will have no problems sending Nestande to prison.

"I hereby remand the defendant to the custody to the Travis County Sheriff's Department to serve her sentence of 180 days," Judge Sage said.

Before deputies led Nestande into custody to start her six month jail sentence, she first heard from Courtney Griffin's family and the judge.

Judge Karen Sage went on the record and told Nestande, she disagrees with the jury's decision.

Last month, a jury sentenced her to ten years probation after convicting her of criminally negligent homicide in the death of Courtney Griffin.

Nestande visited the Clive Bar and had parts of five drinks before getting behind the wheel and running over Griffin on Exposition Blvd. May 27, 2011.

"I do believe there is substantial evidence that intoxication had a part in the commission of this offense," Judge Sage said.

Judge Sage says that's how she arrived at the terms of the probation.

After serving the full six months in jail, Nestande will have to wear an alcohol detection device for another six months to make sure she doesn't drink. She'll have to install an ignition interlock device with a camera in her car for four years. The judge told her she couldn't go to any bars, can't leave Travis County, and can't move without permission.

Nestande must keep a job, undergo drug testing, have supervisory officers visit her home and work, pay a $10,000 fine, and about $28,000 in restitution.

She has to complete a 30 hour DWI offender program and perform 600 hours of community service in Travis County.

Judge Sage also ordered Nestande to write a letter of apology to the Griffin family after civil lawsuits are over.

"And here's why. Because I want that letter of apology to absolutely come from your heart and I want you to be able to express exactly what you need to express and I don't want any lawyers or any other people telling you that you need to hold back in that letter because they deserve to hear those thoughts," Judge Sage said.

Then it was the family's turn to address Nestande.

"When you murdered Courtney, you robbed us of not only our daughter but our peace of mind and security. You will have a memory that none of the rest of us has, you must live with the horrible image of my daughter's body on your windshield. I pray that that image is forever burned in your mind, haunting you every single day of your life," Laurie Griffin said. "Instead of vengeance, I ask for Gabrielle Jane Nestande, sociopath and murderer, to suffer the nightmares we do so she can feel once and for all the pain she has created. I pray that karma acts swiftly in your life."

A visibly thinner Nestande cried when Bart Griffin spoke to her. The only other time she cried in court, was right before sentencing.

"The fact is, you and Courtney were completely different. She would have stopped, she would have held your hand, she would have called an emergency number, and she would have held your hand until you died. That's what she would have done for you. You did not do that for her," Bart Griffin said. "She felt so strongly about being a donor, it was important to her, she was very proud of the fact that she was going to be a donor. She wanted to give her eyes, her organs, her tissue to other people that were in need. She wanted for other people after she was dead and gone to have a chance at life or a chance to make their life better. You stole that from her. Her very last wish in this world, gone. Because you left her on the side of the road to die. Couldn't bother to call somebody to help her."

Judge Sage left Nestande with this.

"You have been given a second chance by the jury in this case. What you do with that second chance is up to you but make no mistake, should you violate the terms and conditions of this probation, I can and will sentence you to prison," Judge Sage said.

The judge even apologized to the Griffins for being a part of the criminal justice system that failed the family. Of course, she referring to the jury's 10 years probated sentence.

According to Laurie Griffin, the judge also told them in her chamber that the jury's decision confused her like it did so many in the community.

Griffin says she was shocked once again inside the 299th courtroom. The first time, when the jury handed down a ten year probated sentence for Gabrielle Nestande, the woman who killed her daughter, Courtney. The second time, Monday morning when Judge Sage gave the highest amount of time possible in jail to Nestande, six months.

Everyone involved is glad this trial is finally over.

"We're having to pinch ourselves to believe it's real because I came in here expecting nothing," said Griffin.

"Anyone who's on probation has some standard conditions and the ones that she read were things she imposed particularly in this case so I think there were a few more in this case," said Travis County Assistant District Attorney, Allison Wetzel.

"We have no criticism of the Griffin's for what they feel and what they've been through. It is very difficult for them. Gabrielle is very sympathetic to them," said Sam Bassett, Nestande's attorney.

She will serve the six months at the Travis County jail.

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