A board member voted to deny parole Friday for the woman serving a 30-year-sentence for running over a Boy Scout on Interstate 24 in Smyrna in 2014.
It was Tina Wilson’s first parole hearing. Investigators say she was under the influence of prescription medication when she hit 13-year-old Clifton Braunwalder, who was changing a tire on his mother’s car.
The parole board member who heard the case Friday reviewed the facts and asked Wilson several questions.
She also heard from Wilson’s supporters, as well as the victims before making the decision to decline parole due to “the seriousness of the offense and high risk to re-offend.” Her recommendation is to review the case again in six years.
“It’s hard to sit up here this soon after Clifton’s death. We knew at the end of the proceedings that parole was going to be up and there would be a time when we would have to do this. It’s not even been five years, and we’re still not even used to him being gone,” said Clifton’s mother, Sondra Braunwalder.
The victim’s parents sat side by side, front and center, and tears filled the boardroom as Clifton’s friends and family members spoke and listened to the woman convicted of killing their loved one.
“I was on my way to Nashville to a Suboxone doctor and when a car tried to come over on me, I tried to miss the car and when I did I lost control of my vehicle and I ran off the road, and when I ran off the road someone was changing a tire and my car hit them. I was not aware at the moment that I had hit someone, and I did leave,” said Wilson.
Clifton’s parents told News 2 they were shocked when they found out Wilson was up for early parole.
“Less than 5 years, that’s too hard for us to handle. Less than 5 years to let her out,” said Norbert Braunwalder.
Clifton’s father said every day without his son is hard, but some are tougher than others.
“The biggest thing is like anybody would expect – holidays [and] birthdays. You know, I’ve watched Clifton’s friends go through high school because when he got killed, he was in eighth grade, go through high school, learn to drive, have girlfriends and now they’re off in college this year. But the hardest thing is watching my two daughters turn 14, which he wasn’t able to do. He got killed six weeks before his 14th birthday,” he told News 2.
He said they find solace in people telling them stories of how they’ve changed their lives because of Clifton.
“Whether it’s getting away from drugs, whether it’s being kinder to somebody else, just because the way Clifton was and now that he’s not around to do it, they’re doing it in memory of him,” Norbert said.
Clifton’s family told News 2 said they know that when Wilson woke up on April 10, 2014, she had no intention of killing their son. They hope she continues to get the help she needs so she can be released someday– but right now, it’s too soon.
Wilson’s case file will now go to the other six board members, who will review it and cast their own ballots to decide if she should get early parole.
News 2 was told that could take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks for their decision in the case.