AUSTIN (KXAN) - Gabrielle Nestande will serve 180 days in jail in the May 2011 hit-and-run death of Courtney Griffin, Judge Karen Sage ruled Monday.
The judge also ruled that the 25-year-old former state Capitol aide must write a letter of apology to the Griffin family and pay a $10,000 fine. Also, if she violates the terms of the 10-year probation -- which includes drinking or taking illegal drugs -- Nestande will go to prison, Sage said.
The letter of apology must wait until pending civil cases are completed.
"I want the letter of apology to absolutely come from your heart," Sage said to Nestande. The judge also told Nestande that she had been given a second chance.
Nestande was convicted of criminally negligent homicide in the death of Griffin, a 30-year-old who lived in Austin's Tarrytown neighborhood. The jury opted not to convict Nestande of the more serious crime of intoxication manslaughter on Feb. 21.
The prosecution had no blood-alcohol evidence to present because Nestande was not arrested until the morning after the crash. But prosecutors did show that Nestande had been drinking before the incident, showing video of her at a bar and presenting the jury with credit card receipts from the evening.
The Griffin family was allowed to address Nestande during Monday's proceedings. Griffin's mother, Laurie Griffin, did not hold back.
"Courtney was our future, our legacy to the world," she said. "We have all been given a life sentence because you were so drunk (that) you were driving in the bike lane."
Nestande looked down as Laurie Griffin called her "a sociopath."
Laurie Griffin has filed a wrongful death suit against Nestande and one of the bars she visited on the evening of May 26, 2011.
Bart Griffin, Courtney's father, was equally forceful and predicted that she would violate the probation terms.
"Gabby, you killed Courtney," he 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."
In addition to the jail time, fine and apology, Sage ruled that Nestande must wear an ankle monitor so that authorities know her whereabouts for 180 days after leaving jail. She may not enter a bar during the course of her probation. And she must perform 600 hours of community service in Travis County.
When the jury issued its recommendation on Feb. 22 that Nestande be given a probated prison sentence, Laurie Griffin was visibly angry, saying it sent a message that leaving the scene of a deadly wreck would result in a more lenient sentence than taking responsibility.
But the judge said notions that the jury's verdict somehow promotes the idea of getting away with drinking and driving are misplaced.
"You should not drink and drive because you may take an innocent life," said Sage before the court. "If that fact isn't sobering enough to make people think twice and call a cab before they drink and drive, then they are lost and there is nothing any jury or any judge can do."
But on the witness stand, Bart Griffin held out an invitation to Nestande, "When you're ready to tell the truth," he said, "Come see me. I'll meet you anywhere."
At the end of the proceedings, deputies took Nestande into custody for her to begin serving the jail time.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside a vehicle after the child's family was involved in a fender bender, DPS said.
Austin Police confirm they have located an 82-year-old women who went missing last night.
APD is responding to a 25 vehicle accident near the 5400 block of Ed Bluestein near Thurgood Ave.
A man is dead after being hit by several vehicles in the eastbound lane of Highway 71 Saturday night.