Handed down as part of an unconventional sentence from Judge Stewart McDonald of St Johns, Michigan, 23-year-old Mitzi Nelson will not be allowed to own or operate a cell phone for a period of two years while she’s serving probation for crashing into and killing a cyclist during September 2014. The cyclist, 35-year-old Jill Byelich, was riding on the right side of the road while wearing a helmet and reflective vest, but was struck by Nelson while she was distracted by her mobile device.
In addition to the two years of probation, Nelson will have to serve a minimum of 90 days in jail as well as perform 150 hours of community service. Nelson will also have to speak publicly at twenty driver’s education classes about the dangers of distracted driving. Nelson received this sentence after pleading no contest to the misdemeanor charge. Beyond the core details of the sentence, Nelson will also pay $1,500 in fines and fees as well as $15,600 in restitution costs. The state of Michigan has also suspended Nelson’s license for an entire year.
Regarding the unexpected ban on cell phone usage addition to Nelson’s sentence, that originated as a special request from the husband of Jill Byelich, Jordan Byelich. Explaining his actions, Judge McDonald said “I don’t think she has a right to have a cellphone. I think it’s a privilege.” Of course, it’s likely that monitoring that portion of the sentence will be difficult for authorities. Hypothetically, a probation officer could check to see if Nelson updates social networks from a mobile device by looking for device tagging within the posts.
Surprisingly, Jordan Byelich was particularly forgiving of Nelson at sentencing this week. He actually gave Nelson a hug and told the court that he believed that she was truly remorseful over her role in Jill Byelich’s death. Nelson’s lawyer told the press that Nelson was unlikely to appeal the decision and wasn’t planning on challenging the inclusion of banned cell phone usage.