Ellie Nessler was never an easy hero to like, even for those who propose vigilante justice for crimes which scream for justice beyond a courtroom.
Ms. Nessler is the woman who took justice into her own hands to bring .38 caliber justice to her son William against her son's accused molester. In this case, the pre-trial hearing was never completed and although the accused did get at least one day in court, it was his last.
On April 2, 1993 there weren't any metal detectors at the door of the court house in the Jamestown, California building which housed the trial.
That allowed Ellie to bring in a .38 cal. pistol, and as she was called to testify and walked past Daniel Driver, the accused molester, she placed five well grouped shots from the pistol into his head and neck. Mr. Driver expired at the scene.
But even though Ellie Nessler had a great deal of national attention and support, she was not an easy person to place in the role of a saint. She had been a known drug user prior to the incident and was no stranger to the local law enforcement officials.
The brazenly open attack in a courtroom, plus the comment to local Sheriff's that Driver was "
sick and deserved to die
" didn't leave much room for a defense attorney to work with either.
Ellie Nessler was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in 1993 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. But after serving only three years, she was released on a finding of jury misconduct during the trial.
Freedom proved to be an elusive reality for Nessler though. While living in Galt, California not to far from Sacramento, Ellie Nessler was arrested and then sentenced in 2002 for attempting to buy 10,000 pseudophedrine tablets from an undercover narcotics officer. Back to prison for six years this time.
Nessler wound up serving just a bit more than four years and was released in 2006. The end of Ellie's story came to an end though on last Friday, at the age of 56 she succumbed to cancer, a battle she had waged since 1994.
As for the rest of Ellie's family, William the son who was purportedly (and probably) molested at the age of eleven: William is serving a term
of 25 to Life for stomping (literally) a man to death in his (Williams) front yard just a few hours after being released from the county jail.
The victim, David Davis was a caretaker of the property while William was in jail and hadn't performed to William's specifications it seemed.
William it might be noted was not a small man, and the stomping of Mr. Davis' head was a particularly brutal method for the man of a very slight build to meet his end after already being beaten nearly unconscious.
The last of the family who has a chance for normality is Becky, Ellie's daughter who is now married and raising a family in an undisclosed location.
The movie of the day in court was nominated for awards but was perhaps a bit to much of the real thing to have been granted any awards. "Judgement Day
" after viewing made me want to go home and take a shower.
A video of Ellie Nessler discussing the incident and her future is located here