A jury in Houston, Texas, chose not to “blame the victim” in a hit-and-run fatality of a bicyclist and instead sentenced the motorist to 15 years in prison on Thursday.
The defense attorney for the motorist told the jurors that the collision would have been avoided if the bicyclist, Chelsea Norman, 24, had been riding elsewhere.
“If Chelsea Norman had been riding in the bicycle lane she would not have been hit… but she wasn’t,” attorney Guy Womack told the jury, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The prosecutor said Womack’s statement to the jury blamed the victim for the collision.
The jury didn’t buy the defense attorney’s argument. After convicting Margaret Mayer, 36, of Houston on Wednesday, they convened for 38 minutes on Thursday before returning the 15 year sentence.
I don’t know if anyone tracks jury verdicts and sentences in regard to bicycle fatalities, but this one is the longest I can recall. The jury could have sentenced her from probation to 20 years.
Mayer, who was driving a pickup, testified that she didn’t stop because she thought she had hit a tree. A co-worker testified that Mayer had called her and said she had two accidents after an evening of drinking “and it might have been a person,” according to the Chronicle.
Before her sentencing, Mayer told the jury how sorry she was for her actions. Jurors also heard from Norman’s father, sister and boyfriend who talked about how much they missed the cyclist who died a few days after the Dec. 1, 2013, collision.