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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. in palm coast says:

    “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.”
    Being good citizens does not lessen that fact that a crime has been alledegly committed and that the penalty, upon convicition, should be any different than Joe Citizen would receive.

    • Magnolia says:

      Mrs. Fischer made an absolutely HORRIBLE decision in minutes, not much different than anyone who hits another vehicle or animal and does not stop makes. You have no choice but to take this into consideration. She is not a threat to society.

  2. johnny taxpayer says:

    Any hack lawyer could defend Mrs Fischer from this ridiculous prosecution. She did not leave the scene of the crash, she was there when the medics arrived. She didn’t call 911, she didn’t have to, another witness did almost immediately, are we really going to send her jail because she didn’t duplicate a call to 911? So because she didn’t testify then and there for everyone to hear on the side of a dark wet street that she may have hit this lady, (possibly because she honestly didn’t know whether she did or not) we’re going to spend thousands of dollars prosecuting her?

    • in palm coast says:

      Hey Johnny, Not calling 911 is a violation of law even when an individual believes he or she has struck an animal.

      • johnny taxpayer says:

        Another witness called 911 almost instantly… so you want Mrs Fisher to go to jail for not making a second call?

    • Y says:

      She killed someone with her car. That is vehicular homicide. Forget the 911 stuff. She hit a person, not an animal. That’s pretty clear. Just a question of sentence in my mind. Maybe she will get a lighter sentence for her background and innocence plea.

      • johnny taxpayer says:

        She’s not being charged with “killing someone with her car”, she’s being charged with leaving the scene.

  3. kathy kauth says:

    I think I read something like that in Wikipedia, but it was called the “Chappaquiddick Incident”. She should have called a very good criminal defense lawyer just as soon as she miraculously “remembered” or maybe just sobered up . Either way: Dumb mistake. Character witnessess will help her…at the time of sentencing.

  4. Kendall says:

    Hoping justice is served on behalf of the late Ms. Pecqueur.

  5. Yellowstone says:

    “Scotty beam me up – there is no more intelligent life on this planet”

    Think about this . . . Suppose it was YOU that got hit? There you are laying there bleeding to death. Who cares?

    Can you possibly imagine anyone in their ‘right mind’ not assuming after hitting something, having your windshield damaged, watching someone dying – that they had nothing to do with this – and you have no responsibilites to call the officials? (But they have second thoughts after sleeping it off – and then hours later have their spouse call the sheriff)

    Come on folks – get real!

    • johnny taxpayer says:

      windshield was damaged in the lower corner of the passenger side of the car (see picture above)… it was dark out. It is entirely plausible that she didn’t notice the damage to her car until she got home. She knew she hit something, she gets out of the car in the dark, sees a dog walking in the middle of the street and assumes that’s what she hit. Then she discovers the victim on the ground in the ditch, is it not at least plausible that she assumed the lady had a medical condition and fell, and that is why the dog was walking by itself in the street?

  6. RNYPD says:

    What if it was your mother laying dead in a ditch like a dog???

  7. DP says:

    @ Johnny taxpayer are you serious and I quote “possibly because she honestly didn’t know whether she did or not) we’re going to spend thousands of dollars prosecuting her?” How can she say I didn’t know what and or if I hit a dog, the damage to her vehicle was not consistent with hitting a dog? The windshield was damaged. Based on the public records that have been posted in previous media outlets and such. If she can’t remember then I say she never drives again, permanent license suspended. Do we need drivers like this on the road?

    @ in palm coast I agree overwhelm the jury with smoke and mirrors, there are no real witnesses as it was dark and late night. I just hope whoever’s on the jury sees through the BS the defense presents.

    No outcome of any good can come of this trial, and is never going to eliminate the pain, suffering and the loss to the family of the late Ms. Pecqueur. I too am hoping justice is served on behalf of the late Ms. Pecqueur. May you rest in peace Ms. Pecquer

  8. Deep South says:

    The lowest of lows. A Hit and Run. Now cowardly trying to portray yourself as a law abiding good person hiding behind your husband, and trying to manipulate a jury to believe your case.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not saying if she knew or not , the guy that spoke to her said he smelled no alcohol on her, it could be possible her confused state was caused by shock, the mind is very complex , I know from losing one family member after another, my mind let in only as much as I could handle, a little at a time, other wise I`d of had a break down. I can only imagine how hard it would be hitting something in the dark , then getting out and seeing it was a person, another thing the mind will do is go into denial, its common when a person is told someone very close to them is dying , the mind goes into denial, you tell yourself their not really dying, and that is under normal circumstances , over a period of time and your mind still goes into shock and denial , a traumatic situation like that could send a person into shock , make yourself believe you hit an animal, I hope I never find out, you`d think after this horrible accident, the city would put in some side walks up there, take a few of the lights from Matanzas Woods Pky and Pine Lakes Pky and make that neighborhood safer. That is one of the oldest sections of town, had their been side walks and better lighting , this accident would have never happened.

  9. confidential says:

    Please do not blame the church/religion the Fischer’s practice for their unlawful behavior.
    Sometimes people think they can get away with anything given their local VIP contacts an buddies they have.
    I sure believe that her husband should have already been ousted from the School Board for not compelling his wife to call 911 on the spot! Maybe that could have saved Mrs Pequer. These type of individuals in public office further damage the image of our county, specially if in a school environment. What a bad example for the students our future leaders.

  10. LAWABIDINGCITIZEN says:

    THIS WOMAN, COMMITTED A CRIME! COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS, HUSBAND ON THE BOARD, ETC ETC ETC…. .THIS WOMAN COMMITTED A CRIME, AND IS TRYING TO COVER IT UP WITH “HITTING A DOG”…. REGUARDLESS OF WHO SHE IS OR KNOWS, SHE SHOULD BE TRIED IN COURT, LIKE EVERY OTHER “AVERAGE JOE”

  11. MHB says:

    The simple fact is that she never left the scene. They are picking on her because she’s married to a public figure

  12. JoJo says:

    The insurance company sure settled the civil suit for 1 mil PDQ?

  13. Geezer says:

    I have a crack in my window. Must have been a palmetto bug.

  14. Anonymous says:

    How about reports where it states she left the scene and returned to see the paramedics already there

  15. Pat P says:

    THIS IS MY OPINION: This woman knew something hit her windshield. I’ve had rocks hit my windshield and knew darn well something hit it. Imagine a human being hitting your windshield; not to mention hard enough to crack the windshield. This woman is lying through her teeth. Her husband is guilty of helping her cover up a crime. She should have told the paramedics that she could have hit the woman. She should have called 911 and said she thought she may have hit the woman. She knew what she did. She just needed to get a second opinion from her husband on how best to handle the situation so her butt wouldn’t end up in jail where she has belonged since this happened. She has been allowed to go on with her life still pretending nothing ever happened. Living in Palm Coast, it will not surprise me one bit if she gets off. This is one backass town where, I feel, a lot of stuff is swept under the run. It seems that if you hold public office of any sort, you are immune to any negative actions of any kind. The motto appears to be “Let’s just turn our heads and look the other way.” If this woman was not charged for hit and run, and/or manslaughter, that just speaks volumes about what goes on in Palm Coast in the course of a normal day. I hope the jury is better than the one judge in the Casey Anthony case. Open your eyes Flagler County residents. Use common sense. It is a shame this woman is going to hide behind her church and the people her husband knows to get away with manslaughter. That’s, in itself, speaks volumes of what kind of person she is. Had she been honest from the beginning, she may have been guilty of nothing. It was lying and leaving the scene without admitting what she did that made her guilty of a crime(s). I, too, have had many, many relatives die and that is no excuse to leave the scene or “panic” or have your mind play tricks on you. That’s ridiculous. At her age, she should have the maturity to deal with things like this. If not, give up the keys.

  16. 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
    Hicup

    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
    Hicup

  17. 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.

  18. 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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