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Hit-and-Run Fischer Case Set for March 25 Trial in Flagler, With Upwards of 60 Witnesses

| January 10, 2013

Jamesine Fischer goes on trial on March 25. (FCSO)

Jamesine Fischer goes on trial on March 25. (FCSO)

Jamesine Fischer, the wife of Flagler County School Board member John Fischer, goes on trail on March 25 on a first-degree felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in the death of 76-year-old Francoise Pecqueur on Columbia Lane in Palm Coast in November 2011. While the defense may seek to move the trial to Putnam County because of the publicity the case has generated, the trial, for now, is scheduled to take place at the Flagler County Courthouse before Circuit Judge J. David Walsh, who set the date in a pre-trail hearing on Wednesday.

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Fischer, 56, has been out on bail since her booking on the charge last Feb. 24. She did not make an appearance in court Wednesday.

The trial had been originally scheduled for January. If it is held–there is always the possibility of a plea–it promises to be long and complicated, and involve more than five dozen witnesses. “There is in excess of 60 witnesses listed for the trial,” Lynne Bumpus-Hooper, spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial Circuit, said. The defense was actively still deposing the witnesses.

Between civilians and first-responders, including paramedics, there were only about a dozen or so people at the scene of the accident the evening of Nov. 10, 2011, when Fischer, driving her PT Cruiser to see a friend in Palm Coast’s C-Section, struck Pecqueur on Columbia Lane, just past the intersection with Colechester Lane.

The very large number of witnesses suggests that the defense may take two approaches: On one hand, overwhelm the jury with character witnesses on behalf of Fischer by capitalizing on Fischer’s marriage to a school board member, the couple’s involvement in a Catholic church, and John Fischer’s ubiquitous involvement in community events. On the other, undermine the state’s charge of hit-and-run, or any suggestions of impairment, by drawing on expert witnesses and inconsistencies in witness statements (such inconsistencies are usually the nature of accident scenes on dark evenings, but the jury doesn’t necessarily know that) to cast doubt on the allegation that Fischer had, in fact, left the scene knowing that she had hit Pecqueur.

Fischer’s contention was that she thought she hit a small dog, though the windshield on the passenger side of her PT Cruiser was clearly broken (but not shattered) from the impact.

On March 21, the judge will hold a brief pre-trial hearing to confirm the March 25 trial date. No other court proceeds are scheduled between now and then.

Francoise Pecqueur (Pecqueur family)

The prosecution of the case was moved from State Attorney R.J. Larizza’s office to the state attorney of the 18th Judicial Circuit, at Larizza’s request–not because of publicity in the case, but because earlier this year, then-Sheriff Don Fleming was tangentially associated with the case, and Larizza’s office’s involvement might have been perceived as a conflict of interest. Fleming, who is no longer sheriff, was cleared of wrongdoing in the case. But the move to the 18th circuit in no way affects the location of the trial: the 18th circuit’s prosecutors have been traveling to Flagler for proceedings, and will continue to do so.

In court on Wednesday, the prosecution argued that the case should still be heard locally, with Assistant State Attorney Laura Moody saying that juries are not usually nearly as well informed as people believe. Even Fischer’s attorney, Steven Alexander, agreed with the priority for a case to be heard in its home county.

There’s also the matter of witnesses and costs. Moving a case is expensive. Keeping it in its home county saves people a lot of trouble and money. “You try to do keep that from being a disadvantage to the victims, the survivors, the witnesses,” Bumpus-Hooper said. “It’s less expensive for the state.”

Fischer's PT Cruiser's windshield after the collision, which Fischer said she did not notice until an hour later. Click on the image for larger view. (FHP)

Fischer’s PT Cruiser’s windshield after the collision, which Fischer said she did not notice until an hour later. Click on the image for larger view. (FHP)

At first Pecqueur’s injury was reported to paramedics–and to the sheriff’s office’s 911 center–as resulting from a fall: it’s what Fischer herself told paramedics, when she was stopped at the scene, never intimating that she may have been the reason Pecqueur–a very slight woman who was walking a tiny poodle the size of a few fists–was lying in a swale with head injuries. Fischer became aware of the smashed windshield, she says, about an hour after the time when she thought she’d hit a dog–but still did not call 911. Someone who was walking along Columbia actually called 911. (Not calling 911 is a violation of law even when an individual believes he or she has struck an animal.)

It was 12 hours before Fischer called authorities to say that she may have hit Pecqueur.

“Um, I was driving down, um, Columbia, how can I explain, anyway,” she told the 911 dispatcher. “Um, I was driving down and I heard a thud, and I thought I hit a dog, and then when I got out of the car, I pulled over, when I got out of the car there was a lady laying there, um, and I thought she had fallen and the dog was free, and I had hit the dog, and the Evac came, and you know, um—”

“So did you stay on scene there?”

“I did, and nobody came, I mean, Evac was there and they took the woman.”

“Did you tell them that you thought you may have hit her?” the dispatcher asks.

“I didn’t realize it until afterward because, um, I was going to a neighbor’s house down the road and when I pulled into the driveway and got out of the car, that was the first time I noticed that my windshield had shattered.”

Steven King, a Flagler County Fire Rescue firefighter-paramedic at the scene, said he’d been dispatched to the scene for a fall. Only one witnesses claimed to have seen Pecquer fall in the swale. “I have to take it with a grain of salt,” King told an investigator of that claim. “At the time I did not see any vehicle, I did not see any lady that stated that her dog was hit or anything like that. I was just told that she fell into the swale.” Pecqueur herself was unresponsive.

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27 Responses for “Hit-and-Run Fischer Case Set for March 25 Trial in Flagler, With Upwards of 60 Witnesses”

  1. ANONYMOUSAY says:

    Believe it or not STEVIE WONDERS “Don’t Drive Drunk” LYRICS

    He and his wife have had problems
    That he’s played off like nothing’s wrong
    ‘Til he comes home from work early
    Just to find the girl is gone
    Oh but he gets into the cupboard
    Picks out that bottle of gin
    Drinks like there’s no tomorrow
    And decides to take a spin

    No don’t drive drunk
    Don’t drive drunk, no
    Don’t drive drunk
    Mothers Against Drunk Drivers are mad

    Teenager at a live party
    Says, “give me one for the road”
    But he’s already so inebriated
    If you lit a smoke he’d explode
    But bartender says, “I don’t think so”
    Young one says, “I can deal”
    Staggering out he says, “check you all later”
    But I really don’t think he will

    No don’t drive drunk
    Don’t drive drunk, no
    Don’t drive drunk
    Mothers Against Drunk Drivers are mad

    Don’t drive drunk
    d-d-d don’t drive drunk
    Don’t drive drunk

    Boy out with girl on their first date
    Gets pulled over by the law
    Officer says, “hey can’t you drive straight
    Or have you been drinking alcohol?”
    Boy says, “man are you crazy?”
    Cop says, “hey then walk this line”
    But results from the breathalizer
    Proves he’s charged with D.U.I.

    No don’t drive drunk
    Don’t drive drunk, no
    Don’t drive drunk
    Mothers Against Drunk Drivers are mad

    Don’t drive drunk
    d-d-d don’t drive drunk
    Don’t drive drunk


  2. Magnolia says:

    The sad thing here is that if this had been dealt with sooner, Mrs. Fischer would likely have already served her time for leaving the scene of an accident. I imagine she has been through a living hell. So very sad.


  3. seriously says:

    RIP Frenchy. You are so very missed. And FYI, Fischer was on Pain Meds…Not drinking. I sure hope there is justice for sweet Frenchy


    • Magnolia says:

      @ seriously,

      How can there be justice? One family has been destroyed an another is about to be. Put yourself in Mrs. Fischer’s place. These are not bad people. A horrible, horrible mistake was made and she is going to have to pay for it. A double loss here, but no justice.


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