Jennifer Nelson, the Shirley mother charged with intentionally running over a 15-year-old student almost a year ago, was found not guilty on attempted murder and assault, but was found guilty of leaving the scene of a crime. NewsdayTV's Steve Langford reports. Credit: Newsday/Photo Credit: James Carbone

A Shirley mother accused of intentionally running over a William Floyd High School student she believed bullied her son was acquitted of top charges of attempted murder and assault Tuesday.

Jennifer Nelson, 36, was convicted on the lesser charge of leaving the scene of an accident with serious injuries. She had faced between 5 and 25 years in prison if she had been convicted of the top charge.

Nelson was accused of running over the 15-year-old two hours after she was captured on video threatening a group of teens who had stolen her son's designer footwear while they were hanging around Mastic businesses during school hours on Oct. 7. The video evidence played at trial showed Nelson holding a knife and telling the teens "Your life is ended" after her son contacted her about being assaulted outside a Dunkin' adjacent to the school.

The jury deliberated for less than four hours Tuesday, requesting a readback of the testimony of one eyewitness to the crash and later asking Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei to reread the assault and leaving-the-scene charges.

Nelson could face up to 3 years in prison, but defense attorney Katherine Fernandez of Uniondale said they will seek probation when Nelson is sentenced Dec. 4.

Nelson said she felt relief, though she remained composed as the jury foreperson read the verdict. She embraced a friend as she walked out of the courtroom. She said she appreciated the opportunity to speak about the bullying her son, who is now home-schooled, endured.

"I'm just happy I finally got to tell my son's story and I appreciate the jury for their decision," Nelson said, adding she and her son tried to "stay positive" since the October incident and her indictment in February.

"We respect the jury's verdict and are gratified that they found the defendant criminally liable for her unconscionable treatment of the victim," Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said in a statement

A juror who asked to be identified only as Juror No. 5 said most of the discussion in the jury room was about whether to convict on the assault charge. The juror said he would have liked to have heard testimony from more witnesses in the case and said the lack of video showing the crash itself made it difficult to convict Nelson of the most serious charges.

Prosecutors presented cellphone and surveillance video of the attack on Nelson's son in addition to her confronting the teens afterward. A detective testified at trial that pole cameras that might have shown more of the encounter were not working because of a cyberattack of county computers.

"Leading up to it was filmed, but it was the boiling point we missed," the juror said.

The juror added that not enough jurors believed that the testimony read back Tuesday, from an eyewitness who said he saw the front of the vehicle strike 15-year-old Jonathan Gamez, was enough to prove Nelson wanted to cause harm. Other jurors declined to comment.

Witnesses at trial said Nelson's Honda Passport speeded through the parking lot of a bagel shop on Mastic Road and struck Gamez as he ran toward the store. Two passing motorists said they watched as Nelson drove over the teen and up onto a curb before backing up and pinning his body beneath her tires a second time.

Nelson took the stand in her own defense Thursday, testifying that she heard a thud as someone ran into the side of her car. The person stood up and ran away, she said. Because the person did not appear to be hurt, she drove home with her son, she told the jury.

"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.

A Stony Brook University Hospital doctor said Gamez suffered a fractured pelvis, punctured lung and broken ribs. The teen said his right eye was damaged from striking the pavement, an injury he said has left him with blurred vision.

Nelson's son testified at trial that he never got back his Adidas Ye slides, popular designer footwear, and an AirPod taken from him the morning of the attack. He said he suffered a broken nose and concussion as he was punched and kicked by the group of five or six classmates who attacked him shortly after 7 a.m.

A Shirley mother accused of intentionally running over a William Floyd High School student she believed bullied her son was acquitted of top charges of attempted murder and assault Tuesday.

Jennifer Nelson, 36, was convicted on the lesser charge of leaving the scene of an accident with serious injuries. She had faced between 5 and 25 years in prison if she had been convicted of the top charge.

Nelson was accused of running over the 15-year-old two hours after she was captured on video threatening a group of teens who had stolen her son's designer footwear while they were hanging around Mastic businesses during school hours on Oct. 7. The video evidence played at trial showed Nelson holding a knife and telling the teens "Your life is ended" after her son contacted her about being assaulted outside a Dunkin' adjacent to the school.

The jury deliberated for less than four hours Tuesday, requesting a readback of the testimony of one eyewitness to the crash and later asking Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei to reread the assault and leaving-the-scene charges.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A Shirley mother accused of intentionally running over a William Floyd High School student she believed bullied her son was acquitted of attempted murder and assault charges Tuesday.
  • Jennifer Nelson, 36, was convicted on the lesser charge of leaving the scene of an accident with serious injuries. She had faced between 5 and 25 years in prison if she had been convicted of the top charge.
  • Nelson could face up to 3 years in prison, but defense attorney Katherine Fernandez of Uniondale said they will seek probation when she is sentenced Dec. 4.

Nelson could face up to 3 years in prison, but defense attorney Katherine Fernandez of Uniondale said they will seek probation when Nelson is sentenced Dec. 4.

Nelson said she felt relief, though she remained composed as the jury foreperson read the verdict. She embraced a friend as she walked out of the courtroom. She said she appreciated the opportunity to speak about the bullying her son, who is now home-schooled, endured.

"I'm just happy I finally got to tell my son's story and I appreciate the jury for their decision," Nelson said, adding she and her son tried to "stay positive" since the October incident and her indictment in February.

"We respect the jury's verdict and are gratified that they found the defendant criminally liable for her unconscionable treatment of the victim," Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said in a statement

A juror who asked to be identified only as Juror No. 5 said most of the discussion in the jury room was about whether to convict on the assault charge. The juror said he would have liked to have heard testimony from more witnesses in the case and said the lack of video showing the crash itself made it difficult to convict Nelson of the most serious charges.

Prosecutors presented cellphone and surveillance video of the attack on Nelson's son in addition to her confronting the teens afterward. A detective testified at trial that pole cameras that might have shown more of the encounter were not working because of a cyberattack of county computers.

"Leading up to it was filmed, but it was the boiling point we missed," the juror said.

The juror added that not enough jurors believed that the testimony read back Tuesday, from an eyewitness who said he saw the front of the vehicle strike 15-year-old Jonathan Gamez, was enough to prove Nelson wanted to cause harm. Other jurors declined to comment.

Witnesses at trial said Nelson's Honda Passport speeded through the parking lot of a bagel shop on Mastic Road and struck Gamez as he ran toward the store. Two passing motorists said they watched as Nelson drove over the teen and up onto a curb before backing up and pinning his body beneath her tires a second time.

Nelson took the stand in her own defense Thursday, testifying that she heard a thud as someone ran into the side of her car. The person stood up and ran away, she said. Because the person did not appear to be hurt, she drove home with her son, she told the jury.

"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.

A Stony Brook University Hospital doctor said Gamez suffered a fractured pelvis, punctured lung and broken ribs. The teen said his right eye was damaged from striking the pavement, an injury he said has left him with blurred vision.

Nelson's son testified at trial that he never got back his Adidas Ye slides, popular designer footwear, and an AirPod taken from him the morning of the attack. He said he suffered a broken nose and concussion as he was punched and kicked by the group of five or six classmates who attacked him shortly after 7 a.m.

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