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Nestande sentenced to 180 days in jail

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TWC News: Nestande sentenced to 180 days in jail
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YNN's Jess Mitchell reports in the video above.

Gabrielle Nestande was taken away by Travis County Sheriff's deputies Monday morning after Judge Karen Sage sentenced her to serve 180 days in jail for the hit-and-run death of Courtney Griffin.

Nestande, 25, was found guilty last month of criminally negligent homicide in 30-year-old Griffin's death. The jury handed Nestande 10 years of confinement, but since she had no prior offenses, suspended that sentence to probation.

On the night of May 27, 2011, after a night socializing with her boyfriend and friends on Rainey Street, Nestande struck with her black BMW as she was walking home on Exposition Boulevard. The former Capitol staffer told the jury she had been drinking before the accident but was not impaired.

Judge Karen Sage added a slew of stipulations to Nestande's sentence Monday. Following the 180 days in jail, Nestande will wear an ankle monitoring device for 180 more days, and must blow into an interlock breathalyzer on her vehicle's ignition for four years. She must also serve 600 hours community service, take driving while intoxicated offense classes and participate in Mothers Against Drunk Driving panels. She will not be allowed to leave Travis County.

Judge Sage also asked Nestande to take her time when writing a required letter of apology to the Griffin family, saying she wanted her to write it “from her heart” and not to be “held back by her lawyers.”

The California native cannot drink alcohol or take controlled substances during her 10 years of probation. She will not be allowed to enter a bar either, which the judge described as an establishment which makes at least 70 percent of its sales from alcohol.

Judge Sage said despite the jury’s verdict, she felt there was evidence Nestande was intoxicated the night of the incident.

"Ms. Nestande you have been given a second chance by the jury in this case,” Judge Sage said. "Should you violate the terms of the probation I can and will sentence you to prison."

Nestande -- who remained composed through most of the hearing -- was also ordered to pay $10,000 in fines and $2,832 in restitution to the Griffin family.

After Judge Sage read the details of Nestande’s sentence, Courtney Griffin's mother and father took the stand to read their victim impact statements.

Laurie Griffin called Nestande a murderer, sociopath, liar and narcissist.

"She was run over by you that night and you left her like an animal in the street," Laurie Griffin said. “The crimes you have committed are intolerable.”

Courtney’s mother also spoke to what she says is Nestande’s lack of remorse since the accident, saying she only displayed emotion and cried “conveniently when the jury was present.”

“Our family doesn't deserve a life sentence in hell," Laurie Griffin told Nestande shortly before leaving the stand.

Next up was Bart Griffin, Courtney's father, who looked at Nestande and said, “Gabby, you killed Courtney.”

Bart Griffin talked about Courtney’s life has a fifth-generation Austinite, citing her love for children, animals and adventure. Bart said she had “an infectious laugh” which he was “struggling to remember now.”

He also talked about Griffin’s last wish--to be able to donate her organs, tissue and even eyes to help save the lives of others as a registered organ donor. Bart Griffin said since his daughter was left on the side of the road for hours, her organs and tissue were no longer usable.

“And you are a horrible person for that,” Griffin said.

Courtney’s father called Nestande a coward, but offered to meet her "anytime, anywhere" when she was ready to tell the truth.

“You will be haunted for the rest of your life,” Bart Griffin said before stepping down.

Judge Sage, who choked back tears of her own, then delivered her condolences to the Griffin family. She spoke to the high publicity of the case and the impact the loss of Courtney's life had on the community. She expressed her sorrow to those who believe the criminal justice system failed them in the case.

Outside the courtroom, Nestande’s defense attorney Sam Bassett said he expected the judge to take a strict stance on his client’s probation.

He noted that Nestande was tired and “ready to have this behind her.”

Laurie Griffin has filed a lawsuit in civil court against Nestande seeking more than $1 million in damages on four counts against the 25-year-old. She is also suing Clive Bar, the bar which served Nestande the night before the accident, saying they over-served an already intoxicated person.

Bart Griffin said he was waiting to make any decisions regarding civil litigation until the trial and sentencing finished. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP