On what would have been the late Courtney Griffin's 32nd birthday, her father in Austin was hoping to receive this gift from someone in the Nestande family of Newport Beach.
It had not arrived despite Gabrielle Jane Nestande being found guilty a week before of criminally negligent homicide for plowing her BMW into the nanny who was out for a walk.
Bart Griffin had been the most vocal member of the Griffin family following his daughter's May 2011 death, especially when it came to convincing prosecutors (through the Texas media) to press for intoxication manslaughter charges against Nestande that could have sent the former Newport Beach deb and scion of a powerful GOP political family to prison for 20 years.
Instead, the jury convicted "Gabby Nasty," as some in Austin have nicknamed her, of the lesser criminally negligent homicide and recommended a sentence of 10 years probation.
"We just could not imagine in our wildest dream that would ever be the outcome of this," Bart Griffin said of the verdict from his living room, to the local Fox television station's cameras. "Now that we've had a chance to reflect it's important for us to speak out. We think the jury missed the boat on this deal."
The daughter of former Orange County supervisor, assemblyman and boozehound Bruce Nestande "agreed to drinking five beers, a vodka drink, a three ounce shot," Griffin points out. "In the jail phone call she admitted what happened. She exactly knew what happened. The jury chose to overlook that."
He believes Gabby "and her drunken buddies concocted a story," an ever-changing story as the former Rick Perry campaign worker and Texas legislator's aide first said she thought she hit a deer and then believed a rock was thrown at her windshield. Or was it the other way around?
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"My only hope for her is that if she lays her head down on her pillow and the room goes quiet and her mind clears that she sees the image in her mind that her lawyer talked about that she'll see for the rest of her life," Griffin said. "I hope that image shows up in her mind every single night for the rest of her life."
He'd hoped justice could have provided his family some closure. Since the jury removed that option, they are hoping to work past their grief by helping to push for legislation in Texas to increase the charge of failure to stop and render aid when there is a death involved. It will be interesting to see how Gabby's former employer votes on that one.
The Fox News report notes the Griffins have been comforted by calls and emails from strangers but ends with this: "Griffin says as of this moment, none of Nestande's family members have reached out to them for an apology."