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Ellie Nesler | Crime vigilante, 56

Ellie Nesler, 56, who sparked a national debate about vigilantism after killing her son's accused molester in a California courtroom in 1993, died of cancer Friday at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. She had battled breast cancer since 1994.

Mrs. Nesler shot Daniel Driver five times in the head during a break in his preliminary hearing in a Tuolumne County courtroom. Driver had been accused of molesting four boys, including her son Willy.

She was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and served three years of a 10-year sentence before winning an appeal based on jury misconduct. The case became a 1999 TV movie


After the shooting, the Nesler family remained entangled in the legal system. In 2002, she was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to selling and possessing methamphetamine. She was released in 2006. Her son William was convicted of first-degree murder in 2005 for stomping to death a man hired to clean family property. He is serving a 25-year-to-life sentence.

- AP