Mother says she forgives man accused of killing her son in DUI accident

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
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Carson Gates, 19, was a passenger in a car when investigators say James Anderson driver ran a red light.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The mother of a young man killed two months ago by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol and drugs is speaking out.

Carson Gates, 19, was a passenger in a car when investigators say James Anderson driver ran a red light.

RELATED: Man accused of killing teen in northeast Fresno DUI crash faces judge

Gates' mother says hate and vengeance isn't the way to live, so she is forgiving the man who took her son.

He had plans to go to college, but his future was stripped from him at the intersection of Chestnut and Nees.

"As a mother that lost a child, I have to forgive him, not for him but for myself to move forward," Jennifer Riad said.

James Anderson was arrested and charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Riad, Carson's mother, has seen the riots unfolding all over the nation throughout the past few days. She has seen the discontent, and she doesn't want to have those feelings in her own heart toward the person who is answering for taking Carson's life.

"We're not here to hate and destroy each other. We need to lift each other back up. And we need to love and we need to help one another. If that means me stepping out of my comfort zone in mourning as a mother, and say I forgive Mr. Anderson," Riad said.

For the last years of his life, Carson lived with his father in Fresno. His mother lives in Kansas. She wishes they'd spent more time together. At 19 years old, she never imagined his life would be so short.

RELATED: Teenager killed in crash on Nees and Chestnut in northeast Fresno

Riad wrote a letter to Anderson expressing her feelings. It said in part, "I hate the choices you've made in your life. I'm not here to judge you. I'm here as a mother trying to pick up the pieces of what life I have left. So I was hoping you would receive this letter openly and willingly- so the both of us can heal."

But her gesture of forgiveness doesn't mean she believes Anderson should receive a lesser punishment.

"We have to take responsibility for our actions and we have consequences to our actions and I hope whatever time that he serves the judge finds it to be fair and just."

A memorial still sits at the intersection where Carson was killed. James Anderson is set to be back in court this Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.