Vigilante mother cleared of murder: Child molester's killer still faces jail
Friday 13 August 1993
A jury in Jamestown, California - a former Gold Rush town which formed the backdrop for the Gary Cooper movie High Noon - convicted Ellie Nesler of a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, leaving her facing a maximum prison term of 11 years.
She now faces a second phase in her trial, which will determine whether she was temporarily insane at the time of the killing. If the court decides in her favour, it could impose as light a sentence as six months in a mental institution.
When Ms Nesler, a 40-year-old single mother, slipped into the court and shot her son's alleged molester, using her sister's palm-sized, semi-automatic pistol, her crime triggered a surge of sympathy for her plight, both in northern California, and further afield.
Her victim, Daniel Driver, 35, who had a history of sex offences against children, was accused of sexually assaulting her six-year-old boy and three others at a Christian camp. According to her, Mr Driver had smirked at her when he was led into court for a preliminary hearing on 2 April. She also claimed that her little boy had been so terrified by Mr Driver, whom she said had threatened to kill him, that he spent the morning of the trial vomiting. Overwrought, she left the court and returned with the gun, shooting the handcuffed defendant in open court.
Several banks set up Ellie Nesler defence funds, local shops put out collection jars, two country and western songs were written about her, and Hollywood agents descended in droves. T-shirts and car bumper stickers were printed bearing the legend: 'Nice Shooting, Ellie', as her supporters sought to portray her as a Wild West vigilante, forced to take the law into her own hands in the face of a lenient judicial system and run-away crime.
Letters of support poured in from as far away as Italy, and Denmark, although her fans began to dwindle after it was revealed that she was under the influence of methamphetamines at the time of the shooting, .
When the verdict was returned, Ms Nesler, a California gold miner's daughter who is reputed to be intensely religious, emerged beaming. 'I am happy and very hopeful,' she told reporters.
The second phase of her trial begins on 7 September and is expected to last three weeks.
- 1 King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Presidential optical illusion offers clues to how brain processes faces
- 5 Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Ukip Jelly Babies cause uproar on Amazon
Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...
£250 - £300 per day: Investigo: Growing international marketing business requi...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ORM Consultant is required t...
£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of educat...