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Woman forms lasting friendship with driver responsible for mother's death in Georgia crash

Woman befriends driver who killed mother in crash
Woman forms lasting friendship with driver responsible for mother's death in Georgia crash 02:42

Atlanta — Nikia Cherry and Staci Green have a bond born from bitterness.

In January 2020, Green's mother, 76-year-old Rosie Minor, was killed in a car collision in DeKalb County, Georgia. Atlanta-area police said the other driver, Cherry, was doing 73 miles per hour in a 45-mph zone. Cherry was charged with vehicular homicide, and Green said she was glad to see her suffer.

"Yes, I was consumed … anger, sadness, loss," Green told CBS News.

Minor was a mother of four and a grandmother of nine. Along with her work as an ordained minister, she volunteered with the Georgia Department of Corrections, providing counsel to inmates and also founded Positive Growth, a mentorship program for boys.

Cherry eventually pleaded guilty to speeding and vehicular homicide. She was sentenced to 24 months probation, 240 hours of community service and a $2,500 fine.

Attorneys Jeb Butler and Tom Giannotti then represented Minor's family in the civil trial. They made sure to keep the parties in the case apart.

"I was worried that if they got together the result would be incendiary," Butler said. "I was very pleasantly wrong."

Last October, before the jury could rule, Rosie's family reached a $10 million settlement with Allstate, Cherry's auto insurance company.

But during the trial, Green approached Cherry in the courthouse. She told CBS News she thought of what her minister mother would say, and then told Cherry, "I forgive you."

"And when I forgave her, it was like I was reborn again," Green said.

It was an extraordinary step, but only the first step. From then to now, Green has gone so far beyond the words "I forgive you," to the actions of "I love you."

"She's like a God-momma to me," Cherry said. "I talk to her every day."

Cherry lost everything in the crash. She now resides in a motel. 

"So I am committed to her life getting better," Green explains. "…So I've helped her with money for food…rent. I was her daughter's Secret Santa. I booked a trip for her to go to Miami for her 40th birthday."

Her attorneys say they've never heard of anything like it.

"She's a remarkable person," Giannotti said.

"And all that's great," Butler said. "That separates conversation from conviction."

"Staci didn't have to do that," Cherry said.

Actually, Green says she did have to do all that, or she could have never forgiven herself.

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