A Long Island mother intentionally drove over a 15-year-old boy with her vehicle twice, believing he was involved in robbing her son, according to prosecutors.
Jennifer Nelson, 35, of Shirley, New York, was arraigned Monday on charges of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting resulting in serious injury, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Monday.
The charges stem from the alleged hit-and-run Oct. 7. Nelson's attorney disputes the district attorney's account.
On that day, Nelson allegedly drove her 2020 Honda Passport to a Dunkin’ Donuts across from William Floyd High School in Shirley to confront students “who participated in a robbery targeting her son earlier that day,” the news release said. She believed the students were still in the parking lot at the chain.
Once in the parking lot, she “threatened a group of students while brandishing a knife and a small bat,” prosecutors said.
During this incident, the 15-year-old victim left the parking lot and walked across the street to the parking lot of an eatery called Manhattan Bagel.
Nelson then allegedly re-entered her vehicle, left the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, entered the parking lot of Manhattan Bagel at "a high rate of speed," and “drove directly at the victim who was standing in the parking lot,” the release said.
Her vehicle allegedly struck the victim, who fell to the ground.
She then "proceeded to drive over the victim, up onto a curb, reversed, drove over the victim again, and then fled the scene,” according to county prosecutors.
Later that evening, she allegedly tried to conceal her car by trading it in for a new model, even though her lease was not set to expire, officials said.
The victim suffered “serious physical injury including multiple fractures of the pelvis, six fractured ribs, a punctured lung, and numerous bruises and abrasions," the release said.
The district attorney's office said two teenagers were arrested in connection with the alleged robbery of Nelson’s son, and the victim was not one of them.
Nelson's attorney Paul D’Emilia shared a different account of the events of Oct. 7, saying in a statement: "The district attorney has attempted to conflate two separate events from that day as one continuous occurrence.”
He said that on that day, Nelson received a “frantic telephone call from her son who was, once again, being bullied and physically assaulted in a parking lot outside William Floyd High School.”
He said Nelson drove to retrieve her son and found him “shoeless and surrounded by tormentors when she drove up a few minutes later.”
After she fended off her son’s bullies, she drove to the junior high school and the senior high school to report the incident and to try to retrieve her son’s sneakers, the attorney said.
“Close to two hours later she headed back home with her son in the car. A group of males were running through the streets and one of the young men received injuries after striking Ms. Nelson’s car,” D'Emilia said.
“Ms. Nelson did not see nor recognize the young man who was injured. Completely taken by surprise, Ms. Nelson did not see the young man running towards her car. The young man rose and ran off after the incident,” he continued.
D'Emilia said his client, a single mom, intends to "vigorously" fight these charges while seeking to protect her child.
At her arraignment Monday, Nelson was ordered to be released on her own recognizance. Prosecutors had recommended bail set at $250,000 cash, $1 million bond or $2.5 million partially secured bond.
Nelson is due back in court March 21.
“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,” Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said. “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,” he added.