Mother Wants Justice In Daughter's Death


Thursday, December 6th 2007, 6:00 am
By: News On 6


The mother of a girl killed by a distracted driver wants the driver to face a stiffer punishment. Six-year-old Jessalyn Sanders died in May while crossing the street near her Tulsa house. News On 6 reporter Chris Wright reports the driver Justin Pearsall, was charged with negligent homicide and driving with a suspended license.

Under Oklahoma law, negligent homicide carries a maximum sentence of one year. Jessalyn's mother says that is not nearly enough time.

Jessalyn Sanders was gone in an instant, struck by a truck while following her sister across the street. The driver told Tulsa Police he had reached down to answer his cell phone, and did not see the six-year-old.

"This is something we can't bring back, we can't bring her back, she's gone forever," said Jessalyn’s aunt Danielle Nunes.

In June, Justin Pearsall was arrested and charged with negligent homicide, and driving with a suspended license. Under Oklahoma law, the negligent homicide charge carries a maximum penalty of only one year.

"It's been right over six months, our family still struggles every day with it," said Jessalyn’s mother Donna Sanders.

Shortly after the accident, Donna Sanders moved to Okmulgee with Jessalyn's older sister, and her two-year old brother Wayne. The home is adorned with pictures of Jessalyn, the little girl with the infectious smile, the daughter Donna would give anything to spend one more day with.

"I just want those last few seconds before she walked out the door. Maybe I could have changed her mind going to a friend's house, it would have all been over with," said Donna Sanders.

Donna Sanders says while losing Jessalyn was a nightmare; Oklahoma's negligent homicide law is equally tragic.

“I just want to see justice done for my little girl, her life was worth a whole lot more than one year," said Donna Sanders.

Justin Pearsall is back in court on December 18. He could face more time because of the driving with a suspended license charge. Pearsall also is still facing drug charges from a separate incident.

Watch the video: Mom Upset About Sentencing Guidelines

Related stories:

05/29/2007 6-Year-Old Killed In Traffic Accident

05/30/2007 Victim In Fatal Auto-Pedestrian Accident Identified

5/30/2007 Family Of Girl Killed In Auto-Ped Accident Struggling To Cope

6/26/2007 Charges Filed Against Man Who Hit And Killed 6-Year-Old