Three years after the death of a Denison mom & teacher, her family still pushes for “Justice for Katie Palmer”

It’s been three years since the Denison school teacher and mother of two died when she and her husband were hit by a truck while walking in their neighborhood.
Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 6:43 PM CDT
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DENISON, Texas (KXII) - It’s been three years since the Denison school teacher and mother of two died.

“I started today out just like I did three years ago,” said John Palmer, Katie’s husband.

A walk on April 21, 2020, would end in the unthinkable.

Katie Palmer and her husband, John, were walking in their neighborhood.

Both of them were hit by a driver in an F-250 pickup truck.

The driver was their neighbor, Cory Foster.

The impact knocked them out of their shoes.

John broke his back, and a helicopter flew Katie to a hospital for blunt-force trauma to her head.

Trooper: Hey John. Is that you’re wife?

John: That’s my wife.

Trooper: What’s her name?

John: Katie Palmer.

John Palmer returned home without his wife Katie.

She was declared dead just hours after she was hit by an F-250 pickup truck.

“Today’s a day that’s chockfull of memories and emotions,” said Palmer. “I can still hear her laugh. I can still see her smile.”

The day, three years ago, would also start a fight for change.

“I’m reminded of all the great things that have been done in her name,” said Palmer.

Palmer and his family started a project in her name to bring Christmas lights during the holiday season to families enduring hardship.

They launched a closet providing clothes to Denison students in need.

Since Katie’s death, the Hagerman Wildlife Refuge dedicated an education pavilion in her honor too.

Katie started and taught a series of children’s programs as a volunteer there.

Katie’s family also took her story to the state capitol.

“We changed laws,” said Rhonda Nail, Katie’s mother. “We have found a force to be reckoned with in Grayson County, and it’s a force that’s not going away.”

The Palmer family succeeded in passing a law requiring any Texas motorist who seriously injures or kills a pedestrian to submit a blood alcohol test.

Alkhatib: But, right when I came up and saw it was him, I was like, dude, he’s probably drunk.

Hill: He said the same thing, he said: that- he’s always- that dude’s always drunk.

Alkhatib: He’s always drunk.

DPS did not issue a warrant for a blood test to the driver, Cory Foster.

He passed a breathalyzer on the scene.

He blew a 0.06.

Trooper: I’m smelling it pretty strong coming from your breath today, is why I’m asking. How late did you stop? How late did you have your last one?

Cory: Seven o’clock probably.

The legal limit is 0.08.

That day a trooper drove Foster home.

A few months later, a grand jury declined to indict him, leaving the Palmers feeling like the only choice they had was to fight.

“To see the inside of the criminal courtroom in front of a jury,” said Palmer. “Fight for accountability in the District Attorney’s office, and we fight for accountability with DPS. I don’t think that anybody thought that we would still be fighting three years later.”

Three years, or however long it takes, they said they’ll keep fighting for her life’s legacy.

“She’s not going to be forgotten, and we are not going to stop until we get justice,” said Nail.

The family has also filed a civil suit against Cory Foster.

They said they expect to see that lawsuit play out by the end of this year.