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‘Incredibly misguided’ enraged mom ran over teen boy twice in parking lot and traded in her SUV the same day: DA

Jennifer Nelson

A law enforcement officer (L) walks alongside Jennifer Nelson (R) following a court appearance (image via News 12 screengrab)

A 35-year-old New York mother ran over a teenage boy under the mistaken belief that the victim was involved in a robbery that targeted her son, the local district attorney said in an interview discussing the attempted murder indictment.

In an interview with local news channel News 12, Suffolk District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney said that Long Island’s Jennifer Nelson “hunted” and ran over the unidentified 15-year-old teen not once but twice with a leased Honda SUV that she traded in later the same day. The DA said that the trade-in of the suspect vehicle was part of a failed effort to stay off the radar of investigators.

The alleged attack occurred on Oct. 7, 2022, in a parking lot near William Floyd High School, located in Mastic Beach, Tierney said.

“She believed that students who participated in a robbery targeting her son earlier that day, were still present at the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, and she allegedly wanted to confront them,” said a press release announcing the indictment. “Once in the parking lot, Nelson threatened a group of students while brandishing a knife and a small bat. During this incident, the victim left the parking lot and walked across the street to the parking lot of Manhattan Bagel.”

“Nelson allegedly then got back into her vehicle, left the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, crossed Mastic Road, 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,” police said. “Nelson’s vehicle struck the victim who then fell onto the ground. Nelson proceeded to drive over the victim, up onto a curb, reversed, drove over the victim again, and then fled the scene. Later that evening, Nelson allegedly traded her 2020 Honda Passport in for a newer model, even though her lease was not set to expire.”

Court records reviewed by Law&Crime show that Nelson was arrested the next day and charged with leaving the scene, second-degree assault and first-degree reckless endangerment.

The indictment that came down Monday added the attempted murder charge, the district attorney explained, because the suspect allegedly ran over the alleged victim a second time, revealing her intent. In total, Nelson faces felony charges of attempted murder in the second degree; assault in the first degree; reckless endangerment in the first degree; and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, resulting in serious physical injury, according to the DA’s office.

“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,” Tierney said in a statement obtained by Law&Crime. “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.”

The 15-year-old, who suffered multiple broken ribs and pelvis fractures, wasn’t even involved in an alleged robbery of her son that day, the DA told News 12.

Tierney also slammed Nelson in the interview with News 12, saying that “She [Nelson] decided to take the law into her own hands in really outrageous fashion.”

New York State court records say that Nelson has retained Paul D’Emilia as her defense attorney. Law&Crime reached out to the lawyer for comment. In comments to The New York Post, D’Emilia claimed that the prosecution’s narrative of events was “misleading” because it “attempted to conflate two separate events that day as one continuous occurrence.” The lawyer also indicated that his client’s son was robbed of his sneakers and bullied.

“Ms. Nelson received a frantic telephone call from her son who was, once again, being bullied and physically assaulted in the parking lot outside William Floyd High School,” D’Emilia reportedly explained. “She found him shoeless and surrounded by tormentors when she drove up a few minutes later.”

“After fending off her son’s attackers, she drove to both the junior high school as well as the senior high school to report the incident and also try to retrieve her son’s sneakers,” the defense lawyer continued.

Court records show that Nelson on Monday pleaded not guilty to the charges against her. An order of protection was also issued in the case. She was released from custody on her own recognizance — over the objections of the prosecution.

The DA’s office had asked that bail be set at “$250,000 cash, $1 million bond or $2.5 million partially secured bond.”

Nelson’s next appearance in court is expected on March 21.

Attempted murder in the Empire State, a class B felony, is punishable by up to 25 years in prison upon conviction.

Read the indictment here.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.