UPDATE, JUNE 8, 12:30 P.M.:
The first post on this story began by tying in a drunken driving crash caused by former Orange County Supervisor and state Assemblyman Bruce Nestande in Newport Beach a few years ago with a hit-and-run death blamed on his 23-year-old daughter, Gabrielle Jane Nestande, in Texas last month But alcohol was not believed to be a factor in Gabrielle's alleged crime. Until now.
Reversing the statements of one of its detectives shortly after the May 27 incident that took the life of 30-year-old nanny Courtney Paige Griffin, the Austin Police Department just issued a press release stating that alcohol is now suspected to be a factor in the fatality. The department has declined to shed any more light than that with reporters from the Austin Statesman and Orange County Register.
Gabrielle Nestande, who is out on bail, has not been charged with any additional offenses beyond failing to stop and render aid, a third-degree felony punishable with up to 10 years in prison. She does not deserve additional charges related to suspected alcohol consumption, according to her attorney, who disputes the new police revelation in an interview with the Statesman.
"Through our own preliminary investigation and talking to our client," Perry Minton reportedly says, "we do not believe, and I am confident, that alcohol was not a factor in this accident."
One suspects the best legal team OC and Texas GOP money can buy will drive that home should this matter ever reach the courts. Besides being the daughter of a former county supervisor, state assemblyman and California Transportation Commission chairman (and current Republican Party insider), the suspect is a legislative aide to Texas Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center), former unpaid campaign worker for Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the half sister of Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R-Riverside).
BTW, hat tip to the Statesman for mentioning something missing from the original post below: besides misdemeanor driving under the influence and hit-and-run, Bruce Nestande was convicted of filing a fraudulent insurance claim from his crash, a felony.
ORIGINAL POST, MAY 31, 7:37 P.M.:The apple really doesn't fall far from the tree: former Orange County Supervisor and state Assemblyman 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. Now his 23-year-old daughter, Gabrielle Jane Nestande, has been charged with alleged felony hit-and-run in the death of a woman in Texas early Friday, although alcohol is not believed to have been a factor.
Around 5 a.m. Friday, a homeowner found the bloodied body of Courtney Paige Griffin, 30, in the driveway of his home in Tarrytown. She had been thrown through a bush, and there was a piece of a broken headlight lens nearby.
An anonymous call came in around 9 a.m. from someone who spotted a black BMW 3 Series sedan with a broken windshield parked in the driveway of a home about a half-mile from where Griffin's body was found. Upon closer inspection, police discovered damage to the front right quarterpanel and bumper, the windshield and the passenger side mirror. Pieces of clothing were lodged in cracks in the windshield.
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The car was traced to Nestande, who had parked at the home of an acquaintance Thursday night before getting a ride to her job Friday morning in the office of Texas Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center), where she works as an administrative aide. Someone at the home told police Nestande had arrived in tears, saying someone threw something at her car's windshield.
Authorities caught up with her at the Capitol. During questioning, she is alleged to have admitted to being the driver, of having been involved in an accident but not knowing what to do. She then declined to speak further without first consulting a lawyer. The former Newport Beach resident was arrested on suspicion of with failure to stop and render aid, a third-degree felony, and held in jail in lieu of $35,000 bail.
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.
Gabrielle attended Baylor University and worked as an unpaid intern for Texas Gov. Rick Perry's successful 2010 re-election campaign. On Thursday, the Texas Legislature honored her with a resolution for her work at the Capitol.