Gabrielle Nestande wiped away tears in a Travis County court room Friday while the judge heard motions from her defense team to quash indictments which say she fatally struck 30-year-old Courtney Griffin after driving home from a night of drinking in 2011.
Police say Nestande, a California native and former Legislative aide to Rep. Wayne Christian in the Texas House, struck Griffin with her car in the early morning hours of May 27, 2011. Griffin, a fifth-generation Austinite, was walking to her home on Exposition Boulevard at the time.
Prosecutors say Nestande then fled to a friend’s house nearby. She was taken into custody the following morning when she went to work on the House floor at the State Capitol. A homeowner discovered Griffin’s body in her driveway shortly after 5 a.m.
Friday, the defense filed several motions, including one to quash Nestande’s indictments on manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter, claiming the state has fallen short in giving manner and means for notice regarding the indictments, which were just handed down in fall of last year. Judge Karen Sage denied that motion.
The defense also said it was having trouble contacting witnesses on a list given to them by the state, including patrons of Clive Bar on Rainey Street and the Cloak Room downtown, both bars that Nestande is said to have visited before the wreck.
In particular, defense lawyers said they were having difficulty reaching certain first responders and police officers who were involved because they were not provided cell phone numbers. Judge Sage gave them one more week to contact witnesses before making any further decision.
Another motion from the defense to suppress evidence was also brought before the judge. The judge will take testimony before ruling on that motion, which is expected to happen sometime early next week.
Friday afternoon marked a round of routine legal proceedings in a swirl of pre-trial hearings that have occurred since Nestande’s first court date in October 2011.
Courtney Griffin’s father, Bart Griffin, is anxious to move the trial forward.
“Let’s get to the truth of this and lets move forward. She has refused to accept responsibility,” he said. “When does a person have to be accountable for their actions anymore?”
Nestande has pleaded not guilty to both manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter. She faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.
Jury selection for the trial is Feb. 11.