A Shirley mother accused of striking and running over a teen she believed bullied her son in October took the stand at her attempted murder trial Thursday, telling the jury that she does not believe she hit anyone with her vehicle.
Jennifer Nelson, 36, said she pulled into a parking spot at a bagel shop across from William Floyd High School when she heard a thud against the front passenger door of her 2020 Honda Passport. She then saw a person get up and run away and assumed nobody was hurt, she said.
"I would have called the police if I knew I hit someone," said Nelson, who also told the jury it was never her intention to kill or hurt anyone.
Nelson was the final witness to take the stand in the two-week trial, which will conclude with closing arguments before State Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei Friday, before the jury returns for deliberations next week.
WHAT TO KNOW
- A Shirley mother accused of striking and running over a teen she believed bullied her son in October took the stand at her attempted murder trial Thursday.
- Jennifer Nelson told the jury that she did not believe she hit anyone with her vehicle, and she would not hurt anyone.
- Nelson was the final witness to take the stand in the two-week trial, which will conclude with closing arguments before State Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei Friday, before the jury returns for deliberations next week.
The encounter happened at 9:40 a.m. on Oct. 7, 2022, more than two hours after Nelson's son, who also testified Thursday, was attacked by a group of classmates outside a Dunkin' across from the school, according to video evidence and testimony at trial. The students chased as Nelson's son ran away, piling on top of him and punching him in the face and head before one of the teens ran off with his Adidas Ye Slides, popular designer footwear.
Nelson also watched Thursday as her attorney and prosecutors again played surveillance and cellphone videos of her carrying a bat and then a knife outside Dunkin' threatening the teens who attacked her son, telling them "your life is ended," soon after her son called her to report the attack. Nelson also told the kids she served time in prison for trying to kill somebody before, the video evidence showed.
"I was just trying to scare those kids," Nelson said, adding as she was questioned by defense attorney Katherine Fernandez that she had never been arrested before. "I wasn't trying to hurt no one. I would never hurt a kid."
Prosecutors alleged that's exactly what Nelson ended up doing, returning to a parking lot adjacent to Dunkin' later that morning and then continuing on to the bagel shop, where two eyewitnesses testified she struck Jonathan Gamez as he ran through the parking lot, ran over him and then backed over him a second time before speeding off. The alleged crash was not captured on video.
Gamez testified at trial that he was running from a man with "a machete," who the video showed arrived at the scene at the same time Nelson returned.
Both Nelson and her son identified that man as Jerome Anderson, her live-in boyfriend, who they said came to bring him new sneakers, before he chased after students at Dunkin' with what Nelson's son described as a flashlight.
"You saw your partner of seven years chasing someone through a parking lot holding a flashlight … and you say I'm going to [a bagel shop]?" Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Veronica McMahon asked Nelson on cross examination.
"He's a grown man," she responded.
Gamez told the jury he saw Nelson as she briefly opened the door after running him over and he also spotted her son seated next to her "laughing." She said Thursday that she never opened her door or window and did not check on the person she believed ran into her car. She said she didn't know if it was Gamez, who was among the teens who chased after her son and the group she confronted soon afterward.
Nelson said she drove away from the bagel shop parking lot because it was "chaos" and her son said he no longer wanted to eat there. Instead she brought him home, made him food and then returned to work, she said.
Later that afternoon, Nelson drove to Valley Stream and traded in her vehicle for a newer model, requesting new license plates.
Suffolk police arrested her the following day.
Gamez suffered a fractured pelvis, broken ribs and a punctured lung from the crash, a Stony Brook University Hospital doctor testified earlier this week.
Nelson's son testified that he suffered a broken nose and concussion from the attack. Prosecutors noted that he waited three days before visiting a hospital.
Anderson was charged with second-degree menacing with a weapon and acting in a manner that injured a child in connection with the incident. He has pleaded not guilty and those charges remain pending, court records show.
Two minor teens, whose full names have not been disclosed, were also arrested for robbing Nelson's son that day, according to trial testimony.
Nelson, who testified that she travels with a bat because she works in rough neighborhoods as an employee for National Grid and the knife in her trunk belonged to a friend, is charged with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting serious injury, all felonies.