Mother disappointed, allowing happiness in wake of trial

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The mother of Haley Nellum, the 17-year-old Bishop Dwenger High School student killed in a March traffic crash, said she was disappointed in the verdict against the man who hit her daughter as she drove home from a friend’s home.

Haley Nellum

Laura Nellum said she will follow the advice her daughter would have given her, though, and accept the jury’s decision this week to find Jeremy Washington guilty of four of the 11 counts against him, which will collectively see him a maximum of 14 years in prison.

Nellum released the following statement to Newschannel 15 on Friday:

“After hearing the verdict, I was disappointed, until I thought about Haley. My focus has always been on Haley. She was one of the most kind-hearted people I know. She would be telling me to accept this, move on, and allow happiness into my heart again. This is my goal.”

Haley Nellum was killed March 29, 2014, when a car driven by the 36-year-old Washington, legally drunk, slammed into hers at 104 mph at the intersection of Stellhorn and Hobson roads.

Washington had fled with two others from the Corner Pocket Pub on St. Joe Road, where he had been kicked out following an altercation with another group. In the parking lot there, Washington’s group and the other met again, each inside opposing vehicles, and Washington opened fire, hitting a man before the two sides sped off.

Lauren Nellum and her daughter Heather
Laura Nellum and her daughter Heather

After being arrested and charged with 11 counts, including murder, Washington went on trial, his defense arguing he was in fear for his life when he fled from the bar and sped across the city’s northeast side. The prosecution, conversely, argued Washington knew the consequences of his actions that night.

The details set off an emotionally charged trial that drug eight days, with more than 40 witnesses called, some 180 pieces of evidence introduced, and more than 13 hours of jury deliberation.

In the end, the jury found Washington guilty on counts of reckless homicide, causing death when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, causing serious bodily injury when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and criminal recklessness – committed while armed with a deadly weapon.

He was cleared of three counts of attempted murder, murder, aggravated battery, and two counts of criminal recklessness – committed while armed with a deadly weapon.

Washington will be sentenced Oct. 26.

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