A former state legislative aid, which was the focus of a controversial hit-and run case, is now out of jail. Gabrielle Nestande was released Friday morning from the Travis County Correctional Complex in Del Valle shortly before 9 a.m.
Clutching a rain jacket, her father and with her boyfriend by her side Gabrille Nestande walked out of jail Friday morning. The downpour that fell as they dashed through the parking lot seemed appropriate considering the firestorm she caused two and a half years ago.
"The horror of that day is still vivid in my mind," said Bart Griffin.
Griffin's daughter, Courtney, is the woman Nestande ran down in a Terrytown neighborhood and left for dead.
"You know we've got a long way to go before we're fully recovered from all of this, but we're trying," said Griffin.
Before killing his daughter the former legislative aide earlier in the evening had been out bar hoping with friends. Video clips of her drinking were shown during the trial as well as her damaged car. Nestande and her legal team claimed she didn't know she had hit a person. Griffin didn't buy the excuse then or now.
"Until she can completely come clean and be very honest about what transpired that day she is not going to get any kind of forgiveness, certainly from me, her god, from anybody," said Griffin.
Prosecutors were going after intoxication manslaughter- but the jury Convicted Nestande of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide and given probation.
"I was just stunned," said Griffin.
While Judge Karen Sage did order Nestande to serve 180 days in jail the bitterness remains.
"It's the jury that let us down its the jury that let Travis County down, it's the jury that let the State of Texas down in this situation people have got to be held accountable for their actions they in essence let her go, as the judge said they gave her a second opportunity, and they shouldn't have," said Griffin.
Nestande could return to jail as quickly as she ran away if she violates the terms of her 10 year probation. She has to wear an alcohol monitoring device, install an ignition interlock in her vehicle for four years and perform 600 hours of community service.
"Gabrielle has served the time the judge gave her to, so we are obviously ok with that we're happy it was a full six months, our wishes were the jury had done a better job and held her accountable but that is not the case," said Griffin.
And while Bart Griffin says she has never contacted them, Nestande must also write an apology letter to Courtney's family.
In a statement sent to FOX 7 Courtney Griffin's mother, Laurie Leach stated:
"This is a hard pill for us to swallow ... Now that the defendant is back on the streets; I hope that the people of Austin help ensure she follows the conditions of her probation. That is the only way we can make sure no one has to suffer like we have since she so violently took Courtney from us with relatively minor consequences."
As a result of the Nestande case, state lawmakers passed legislation that increased the penalty for failing to stop and render aid.