Gabrielle Jane Nestande has been indicted on more serious felonies related to a hit-and-run that could send the daughter of a powerful Newport Beach Republican to a Texas prison for 20 years.
The 25-year-old former Austin Capitol staffer and Gov. Rick Perry campaign worker, who had faced a single count of failing to stop and render aid to a pedestrian, is now fighting manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter charges.
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And this bombshell just dropped, as reported by the Austin Statesman: The prosecution will rely at trial on the testimony of Francesca Nestande, a University of Southern California and another child of Bruce Nestande, a former Orange County supervisor and state assemblyman. Francesca's testimony "is important and necessary in that she can testify to incriminating statements made by the defendant in the hours following the commission of the crime," the prosecution writes in court papers reviewed by the Statesman.
Prosecutors have also seized evidence from two Austin area bars the night before May 27, 2011, when 30-year-old nanny Courtney Paige Griffin was mowed down near her suburban home. Nestande was arrested hours later after an anonymous 9-1-1 caller spotted her black BMW 3 Series sedan with a broken windshield parked in a driveway a half-mile from where Griffin's body was found.
New evidence spurred the beefed-up charges, which will be the subject of a hearing scheduled today, according to prosecutors.
Griffin's parents, their supporters and the Texas media have been vigilant in ensuring Nestande receives no preferential treatment at trial despite her strong political ties in at least two states. They had feared the worst when police investigators first said alcohol played a role in the slaying but then a non-alcohol count was initially filed against Nestande.
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A Baylor University graduate, Nestande worked as an unpaid intern for Perry's successful 2010 gubernatorial re-election campaign. The night before Griffin died, Nestande was out celebrating the Texas Legislature having honored her with a resolution for her administrative aide work with Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center).
Nestande's father was a special assistant to then-Governor Ronald Reagan in the early 1970s and chairman of the state GOP from 1972-73. He got elected to the state Assembly out of Orange County in 1974 and remained in the lower house through 1980. He was an Orange County supervisor from 1980-87. He chaired the California Transportation Commission and, in 1994, Michael Huffington's unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate. His son by another mother, Brian Nestande, is currently a state assemblyman out of the Palm Desert area.
Bruce Nestande served six months of house arrest and three years probation after pleading guilty in 2007 to driving drunk the wrong way on a one-way street and hitting a parked car. He was later convicted of filing a fraudulent insurance claim from his crash, a felony.