Guilty verdict reached in Jason Rivenburg case

| 12/4/2009

Willie Pelzer’s fate rested in the hands of a South Carolina jury as both the prosecution and defense rested their cases on Friday, Dec. 4. At press time, Hope Rivenburg alerted media, friends and family that a guilty verdict was reached.

Pelzer, 22, has been found guilty of shooting 35-year-old Jason Rivenburg of Fultonham, NY, as he sat in his cab on March 5. 

Jason’s widow, Hope, their three children, and other family members traveled to South Carolina earlier in the week for the trial.

Since Jason’s death, Hope admits her plate is full just taking care of her kids, but she has also become an advocate for safe parking for truckers.

She is calling on truckers and their families to keep this issue in the forefront so that what happened to Jason won’t “have to happen to another trucker’s family.”

She has also reached out to lawmakers for their support as well.

After Jason’s death, Hope met with Rep. Paul Tonko, D-NY, who then introduced HR2156, titled Jason’s Law in the House.

“We do have 30 sponsors for the bill now. The most notable recent sign-on is Rep. Don Young from Alaska. He’s a Republican and helps add to the bipartisan support we are working to build,” Tonko told Land Line on Friday, Dec. 4.

Jason Rivenburg was fatally shot while parked for the night at an abandoned gas station in St. Matthews, SC, for the $7 he had on him. He was scheduled to deliver his load of organic milk to the Food Lion distribution center in Elloree, SC, the following morning at 7 a.m.

“My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Hope Rivenburg and her children this holiday season. I can’t imagine how difficult this time must be for the family, especially as the trial progresses in South Carolina and those difficult memories are relived,” Tonko said.

On the Senate side, Charles Schumer, D-NY, has introduced his own Jason’s Law bill – S971. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, has signed on as a co-sponsor to the bill.

Tonko said he will continue to work with his colleagues in the House and Senate “to push Jason’s Law forward.”

“This bill is critical to providing safe and adequate parking for our nation’s truckers. I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure that Jason’s tragic death will not be in vain,” Tonko said.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer

Reed Black contributed to this report