Gabrielle Jane Nestande, the former Texas capital aide, one-time Newport Beach debutante and daughter of a California GOP power player, will do some jail time connected with her being convicted of criminally negligent homicide for a hit-and-run slaying of a pedestrian after a night of beers, vodka and a shot.
Saying her hands were tied by the jury's recommendation, Judge Karen Sage in Austin sentenced the 25-year-old to 180 days in jail--with more to come should she violate her 10-year probation term.
Various Texas media outlets are showing photos and videos of Nestande crying and dropping her head to the defense table as she learned her fate. Many in the Lone Star State, including the family of the late Courtney Griffin, wanted "Gabby Nasty," as they've nicknamed her, to do hard prison time. She was immediately taken into custody to begin serving the jail time near the end of today's proceedings.
In addition to the six-month jail stretch, Sage ordered Nestande to pay a $10,000 fine and wear an ankle monitor for another 180 days after she leaves jail. The judge forbid Nestande from entering a bar during the course of her probation and demanded she perform 600 hours of community service in Texas.
The harsh terms provided some solace to a Griffin family that has felt burned throughout the tragedy. First, the Texas cop who first confronted Nestande the morning after the 2011 hit-and-run never took a blood test, and his office as a result did not file more serious intoxication-related counts that would have mandated prison time with a conviction.
After public outcry, a state attorney took over the case from local prosecutors, more investigation was done and intoxication counts were added because of the bar tab and surveillance tape evidence that proved Nestande had been drinking, some would say heavily for such a small woman, but she testified she did not finish her multiple drinks.
The next outrage for the Griffins came when the jury set aside the alcohol-related counts on Feb. 22 and recommended a probated prison sentence for the criminally negligent homicide conviction, a nod that could have resulted in no time behind bars for Nestande. Griffin's mother and father, who are divorced, reacted to the jury's recommendation as if Gabby was about to get away with murder.
Judge Sage explained her sentence should make it clear Nestande will face consequences, and she also ordered the defendant to write a letter of apology to the Griffins, reports KXAN.com. Bart Griffin, the victim's father, had said no one from the solidly politically connected Nestande family had apologized since the young woman's arrest. He and his former wife have separate civil lawsuits against Nestande and the Austin bar that served her.
They were allowed to address Nestande today in court.
Laurie Griffin reportedly called Gabby "a sociopath" and added, "Courtney was our future, our legacy to the world. We have all been given a life sentence because you were so drunk (that) you were driving in the bike lane."
Her former husband predicted out loud that Nestande will violate her probation. "Gabby, you killed Courtney," he reportedly said. "You killed my daughter. I hope every night you lay your head on pillow and as you drift to sleep, I hope you see Courtney."
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Bart Griffin is also said to have extended Nestande this invitation: "When you're ready to tell the truth, come see me. I'll meet you anywhere."
She is the daughter of Bruce Nestande, who remains an adviser to the Orange County Republican Party and previously served as a state assemblyman, county supervisor and campaign chairman to various high-profile GOP candidates. His son, and Gabby's half-brother, is Brian Nestande, a former chief of staff to Sony Bono and Mary Bono Mack, who is now an assemblyman out of Palm Desert famous for pissing off party faithful for crossing the aisle to vote for a state tax increase.
Gabby Nestande, who'd worked on the campaign for Texas Gov. Rick Perry and was out celebrating an award she'd received for her work at the capital for a state legislator the night Griffin was killed, is now shaping legislation working its way through the halls of power in that state. It would require mandatory prison time for hit-and-run drivers and allow drivers who hit someone accidentally to call in the incident without fear of prosecution, so long as they are not intoxicated or suspected of a crime. The Griffin family is championing that bill.