A Long Island mother is accused of running over a 15-year-old she believed robbed her son with an SUV she would later trade in for a newer model.
Jennifer Nelson, 35, has been indicted on charges of attempted murder, assault, and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, after prosecutors say she allegedly struck a teenage boy with her car in a parking lot in October 2022.
According to a news release from the Suffolk County district attorney’s office, Nelson drove her SUV to a local Dunkin’ store to confront the students she believed robbed her son earlier that day.
According to the DA’s statement, when Nelson arrived at the Dunkin’ parking lot, she brandished a knife and a small baseball bat. The 15-year-old boy then left the parking lot and walked to another lot at a bagel shop across the street.
According to prosecutors, the mother got back into her car and followed the boy, driving directly into the victim at high speed, knocking him to the ground, and running him over two more times before driving away.
Prosecutors said the teenager suffered serious injuries, including multiple fractures of the pelvis, six fractured ribs, and a punctured lung. Later that day, they said, Nelson traded her SUV in for a newer model.
“This defendant – an adult – allegedly thought she could take the law into her own hands and tried to kill a 15-year-old in the process,” District Attorney Ray Tierney said in a statement. “This defendant’s incredibly misguided attempt to avenge the alleged victimization of her own child is no excuse. Citizens cannot take the law into their own hands, and should instead work with law enforcement and my office to seek justice in every case.”
In a statement to BuzzFeed News on Tuesday, Nelson’s attorney, Paul D'Emilia, disputed the district attorney’s statements, calling them “misleading.”
“The District Attorney has attempted to conflate two separate events from that day as one continuous occurrence,” D'Emilia said in an email to BuzzFeed News.
According to D’Emilia, on the day of the incident, Nelson received a “frantic” phone call from her son, who was being “bullied and physically assaulted” in the parking lot outside the school, and left work to go pick him up.
“She found him shoeless and surrounded by tormentors when she drove up a few minutes later,” D’Emilia said.
Nelson’s defense attorney said the mother fended off her son’s attackers, and drove to the school to report the incident to administrators and find his shoes.
According to D’Emilia, about two hours later when Nelson was returning home with her son, a group of boys was running through the streets and one of them, whom Nelson did not see or recognize, was struck by her car.
D’Emilia said the teenager then quickly rose and ran off.
“The District Attorney is aware of this long and unrelated sequence and should have been forthcoming with that fact in its presentation to the Court and the media,” D’Emilia said.
Suffolk County prosecutors recommended that Nelson’s bail be set at $250,000 cash, $1 million bond, or $2.5 million partially secured bond, however at her arraignment on Monday, the presiding judge, Timothy P. Mazzei, ordered Nelson to be released on her own recognizance.
“Ms. Nelson intends to vigorously fight these charges while also seeking protection of her child from unresponsive school officials,” the defense stated. “Ms. Nelson is a single mom caring for her only child with no other support or help.”
Nelson is due to be back in court March 21.