Gabrielle Jane Nestande, Killer of Nanny Out for a Walk, the "Great White Defendant?"
Is Gabrielle Jane Nestande, a politically connected former Newport Beach debutante, the "Great White Defendant?"
That's how a conservative online magazine is characterizing the 25-year-old convicted of criminally negligent homicide and recently sentenced to six months in jail for the hit-and-run slaying of a nanny out for a walk in Texas.
Nestande attended Baylor University, worked on Rick Perry's gubernatorial campaign and, at the time of her arrest, was a legislative aide for Republican state Rep. Wayne Christian. She comes from staunch GOP stock, being the daughter of Newport Beach's Bruce Nestande, a former Orange County supervisor, California assemblyman, Gov. Ronald Reagan assistant and state party chairman. Gabby's stepbrother is Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert).
Considering the intense media coverage in Texas of the young woman derisively nicknamed "Gabby Nasty," as well as liberal-leaning Austin's lust to demonize wealthy Republicans, Nestande was a victim of her lot in life as compared to the vast majority of other tipsy drivers who have killed people in the Lone Star State--or, at least, that's the argument made by El Cerritos-based American Thinker's David Paulin in "Austin Finds Its Great White Defendant."
Many wanted the native Californian's head because of who she was -- not because of what she was alleged to have done. This included prosecutors who portrayed her as a "heartless rich bitch," as defense lawyer Perry Minton complained last week to a packed court room. The six-day trial riveted many in Austin, and it turned on its head the popular notion that the rich and powerful automatically get favored treatment in the criminal-justice system.
Lady Justice wears a blindfold in order to impartially weigh competing evidence. But in arguing for a prison sentence -- up to 10 years -- Assistant District Attorney Allison Wetzel repeatedly brought up Nestande's wealth and upper-class family background -- thereby arousing a certain blood lust among liberal trial watchers that was last seen in Austin when former House Republican Speaker Tom DeLay was tried on money laundering charges.
Does Paulin play the race card? Indeed:
Interestingly, most drunken driving cases in Austin don't involve preppy young women whom prosecutors want to make an example of with prison terms. Most of the culprits are Hispanic men -- or as the Austin American-Statesman reported: "Of 3,007 drunken driving arrests in 2002, 43 percent involved Hispanic men, even though they make up only about 11 percent of Austin's driving population."
And regarding Austin's veritable epidemic of hit-and-runs, it's widely presumed that many of those drivers are from Mexico or Central American -- illegal immigrants attracted to Austin because it's a sanctuary city. But solving hit-and-runs involving unassimilated Latinos is problematic for police because of the lack of a civic culture in this ethnic group. Their allegiance is to family, friends, and tribe -- to the frustration of vehicular homicide investigators attempting to put together a case. They was no such obstacles in building a case against Nestande, however.
Paulin concludes that Nestande is just lucky she could rely on the best defense money could buy to avoid hard prison time. Because that's how Lady Justice rolls in the good ol' USA. But there are a couple ways the--how'd her own lawyer put it? Oh, yeah--heartless rich bitch can repair her reputation with takers everywhere. Dedicate some of those community service hours to making an anti-drunken driving PSA. Gabby can look into the camera and explain how she had five beers, a vodka drink and a shot before climbing into her BMW and slaughtering Courtney Griffin (hey, American Thinker, remember her?). Calling upon those tears she produced often in the courtroom, Nestande can tell Texans how that night will haunt her the rest of her life, how sorry she is and urge everyone to do all they can to ensure people like her (not heartless rich beotches in this instance but--how'd she put it on the stand? Oh, yes--"buzzed" drivers) do not repeat the tragedy she caused.
Next, Ms. Nestande can harness all that political power and connections and knowledge of the workings of the Texas capitol that had honored her the day before she killed Griffin to help push through the new legislation that was born out of her case. It calls for mandatory prison time for hit-and-run drivers.
That would be very great white of her.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts