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Jamesine Fischer Pleads Guilty in Hit-and-Run, Will Serve 21 to 36 Months in State Prison

| February 28, 2013

Jamesine Fischer.

Jamesine Fischer.

In an arresting but not entirely unexpected turnaround, Jamesine Fischer Thursday morning pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident with a death, in the hit-and-run killing of 76-year-old Francoise Pecqueur in Palm Coast in November 2011.

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Fischer, 56, who is married to Flagler County School Board member John Fischer, will serve at least 21 months in prison, or a maximum of 36 months, pending sentencing by Flagler County Circuit Judge J. David Walsh. Fischer will then be on probation for 10 years. She will lose her driver’s license for three years.

Sentencing is set for April 10 at 1:30 p.m.. Fischer will remain free on bond until then.

“I hereby acknowledge that I am in fact guilty of the foregoing offense,” Fischer’s plea reads. “When asked by the judge, I will provide a factual basis for my plea.”

Walsh will hear arguments from both sides to determine Fischer’s prison term, but only “within the agreed upon range,” the plea states. Fischer will also be responsible for court costs and the prosecution’s costs. “I understand that if probation is part of my sentence,” Fischer goes on, “that the court may impose any conditions of probation authorized by law, including public service, and unless conditions are specifically attached hereto, those conditions are by this agreement left to the discretion of the court.” (The language, however, is standard for most pleas.)

Fischer’s plea also means that she surrenders all rights of appeal. Had she gone to trial, the first-degree felony charge would have carried a maximum of 30 years in prison, assuming conviction.

Fischer’s plea ends a protracted legal case that ensnared former Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming and John Fischer, whose phone calls to each other after Fischer’s wife struck Pecqueur with her PT Cruiser raised questions of propriety and favoritism, though a State Attorney’s investigation cleared Fleming. Weeks later, Fleming lost his bid for a third term to Jim Manfre.

Pecqueur, who would have turned 77 the week of the killing, was walking her dog on Columbia lane after sunset when Fischer struck her as she drove her Cruiser to see a friend. Fischer never told authorities at the scene that she had struck Pecqueur, instead attempting to “mislead medical personnel and bystanders“, according to a police report, as to what had taken place. She claimed that she believed she had struck a dog. Initially, paramedics concluded that Pecqueur’s injuries were the result of a fall. Doctors at Halifax Hospital later that night said the injuries were the result of a violent, traumatic encounter. She never regained consciousness. She died less than two days later, and a few months after her last visit to see family in France, where she was from.

The trial was scheduled for later this spring. It was expected to take at least a week, with close to 50 witnesses being deposed for Fischer’s defense, conducted by Stephen Alexander, who had also been the sheriff’s office’s attorney before Manfre took over. For the Fischers, the case was resulting in what was likely to be immense legal bills.

The case, had it gone to trial, would have relied heavily on a jury’s willingness to believe that Fischer was in earnest when she believed she hadn’t hit Pecqueur, and only later came to the realization that she had. But much of the evidence presented by Florida Highway Patrol investigators weighed heavily against Fischer’s version of events.

The plea is a major victory for Assistant State Attorney Russ Bausch of the 18th Judicial District in Brevard County, who prosecuted the case with Laura Moody. The case began under the jurisdiction of State Attorney R.J. Larizza in the 7th Judicial Circuit. But Larizza last March asked the governor to move the case out of his jurisdiction. Larizza, who was facing re-election, cited a conflict of interest, because the case involved Fleming. The governor acceded, moving the case to the 18th circuit.

A key turnaround in the case may have taken place earlier this month when Bausch, a vastly experienced prosecutor, revealed that the prosecution’s case would not claim that Fischer left the scene of the accident. Rather, that she remained at the scene, but never fulfilled her obligations under the law to inform authorities that she was involved in the collision. Bausch had filed a motion to ensure that the judge’s information to the jury make clear that the law, while not explicit about that hit-and-run nuance, addresses it nevertheless by implication: an individual is required not just to stay at the scene of an accident, but to be properly and responsibly clear to authorities about his or her role in the events at the scene.

The fact that the prosecution would not make a distinction between Fischer staying at the scene and leaving–so long as she did not inform authorities of her role while at the scene–may have disarmed a key line of defense for Fischer’s attorney, who appeared to be building a Maginot Line of expert and other witnesses to wear down the jury and cultivate its sympathies for Fischer. Bausch outflanked the Maginot defense well before trial, possibly prompting the defense’s realization that its battle had become that much more difficult.

In matters of perceptions, around which much of the trial would have hinged, the prosecution had two other advantages: Walsh was unlikely to approve a change of venue for the trial. And although the civil settlement would not have been part of the criminal case, it was well known that Fischer’s insurance settled the wrongful death case for $1.25 million in a matter of weeks after the fatal collision. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Catherine Vyvyan, Pecqueur’s daughter, now a Palm Coast resident with her husband.

The plea document is below.

Jamesine Fischer Plea Agreement, Feb. 28, 2013

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46 Responses for “Jamesine Fischer Pleads Guilty in Hit-and-Run, Will Serve 21 to 36 Months in State Prison”

  1. Flagler Native says:

    That’s it!?! Only less than 2 yrs and a max of up to 3 yrs!!! But yet a family gets to live a lifetime without their loved one….wow what a fail.

       44 likes

  2. blondee says:

    Jamesine Fischer gets a slap on the wrist, while the Pecqueur family just got a slap in the face! Shameful and disgusting!

       41 likes

    • Anonymous says:

      slap on the wrist? 21 mo. to 30 for not making a phone call? That was Mrs. Fischer ONLY crime. Besides that, it was an accident. I can’t help but believe that the victim has to take some responsibility for walking in the street at dusk wearing dark clothes. It’s a shame that this accident occured but it’s also a shame that because Mrs. Fischer didn’t make a phone call she has to spend time in jail. Will all this bring back the lady that died? Seems very unfair to me.

         6 likes

      • just a thought says:

        Are you kidding me? You are blaming the victim that was walking her dog in an area where thee are no sidewalks??? And her crime was not only “not making a phone call.” It was also attempting to deceive the EMTs by saying the victim fell. This is the action of an person that has no morals and is trying to avoid the law.

           4 likes

  3. How very sad says:

    21 to 36 months in jail for a hit and run? Hardly seems like justice for killing Mrs. Pecqueur.

       34 likes

  4. h&h says:

    With a DUI and coverup by her husband and Fleming, they should all do some hard time.. I guess this what our judges and the system is all about..

       31 likes

    • Ray Thorne says:

      By all accounts that came to light I don’t see where Fleming covered anything up. Fischer called him about an animal being struck and three minutes later Fischer called 911 at Flemings urging to report the accident. It was only later Fleming found out it was a person Mrs Fischer had struck. IMO Fleming was painted with a bad political brush.

         3 likes

      • cc says:

        You have got to be kidding! It’s very obvious that he covered everything up. How come a law enforcement official can’t recall these phone calls? How come Mr. Fischer states ‘we prayed all night that she was okay’? Mr. Fleming, in my opinion, should have been painted with a black brush and made responsible for his action, or should we say, lack of.

           0 likes

  5. David R Campbell says:

    This entire situation has been sad from the begining. There were so many mistakes made by all concerned (with the exception of the deceased) and it was going to go nowhere but downhill. :(
    I never liked the media’s intro to every article about this: “Jamesine Fischer, wife of Flagler County School Board Member John Fischer…”. What the hey did John do to deserve this notoriety? Seriously!
    I don’t know if I could put a price on a loved one’s soul-I really don’t! But since the family of the deceased apparently settled for an amount-let us start to get over this horrible situation.
    The way I see this is that Jamesine Fischer is going to admit to her guilt. Why is her husband being dragged through the mud?
    At any account, my sympathies are with every single one of those impacted by this tragic event-every one!

       38 likes

    • fact says:

      David, I couldn’t agree with you more. It is a tragic event for all parties involved. My wife is a teacher and has always commented on how John Fischer is the most active member of our School Board. He goes to almost EVERY event at her school and genuinely cares for our students. My prayers go out to BOTH families involved.

         10 likes

    • JG says:

      Given some of Mr. Fisher’s public pronouncements, it seems he has justifiably earned his own notoriety.

         7 likes

  6. Yellowstone says:

    Correct me if I am wrong . . . The crime she committed was leaving the scene of a accident wherein a death ocurred – then lying about it to officials.

    If she had stayed on site and admitted the accidental death – she’d walk away a free person. This was not an intentional or premedicated death of a person.

    Speculation exists whether she may have been under the influence – but that cannot be proven either since Flagler law enforcement failed to show up on the scene.

    Asking for a correction if needed . . .

       12 likes

  7. Gia says:

    That prove only one thing that the fucking system sucks.It’s politic & money talk

       8 likes

  8. Maryjoe says:

    The whole thing is just so sad. Normal every day lives turned over in a matter of minutes. I believe generally with a plea bargain in a case like this the family is consulted, no? Either way… it is all just so sad.

       6 likes

  9. Nancy N. says:

    Those of you upset on behalf of the Pecqueur family about Mrs. Fischer’s plea deal need to understand how the justice system works. This plea deal could almost certainly not have taken place without the consent of the Pecqueur family. The prosecutor has a legal obligation to consult the family about the plea arrangements and the judge will likely ask in court when sentencing recommendation is made whether the family agrees to the recommendation. In front of most judges, a “no” answer will scuttle the arrangement. Victims and their families, in effect, have veto power over plea deals.

       1 likes

  10. The system usually works.

       0 likes

  11. Donna Heiss says:

    @ David. I too post under my real name. I own what I say and I commend you for doing the same. However, about Mr. Fischer being “dragged” in, I must disagree with you. He was aware of what was happening. I would not be able to bring any of our vehicles home with that kind of damage and my husband not being aware of it. I also would not have any composure. Personally I believe Mr. Fischer had full knowledge and with that comes responsibility. How on earth can he serve on the school board making decisions for the well being and good of the children when he cannot do the right thing at home.

    I will not forget when elections come around. I will be the one campaigning hard for his opponent.

       9 likes

    • flowers says:

      I too agree Mr Fischer know all about the accident…He’s just as guilty as his wife…..And he wants prayer in school…………come on…clean up your home first…..

         1 likes

  12. confidential says:

    As far is my concern as a tax payer and law abiding citizen…Mr. Fischer should be out of our school board as a bad image and example for our youth.
    What a shame that he won that seat beating Attorney Mrs. Raven Sword that has outstanding credentials and proven record of honest leadership to benefit our students and our community! When are we going too get out of our blindness and learn to see real quality beyond connections and race? Hope to see Attorney Mrs Raven Sword run for that seat soon again!

       12 likes

    • I say says:

      The people elected John Fisher because they apparently felt he was the right person for the job. Raven had her shot at it and lost the race fair and square. Get over the pitty party.

         3 likes

  13. Justice says:

    Well this keeps in step with all the gangster thug scum that get 20 months for drive by shootings. Only in America with its progressive, liberal, socialist judges will this continue. There is MAJOR problems in our judicial system. To many loser judges and WAY too many LOSER attorneys ! Its all in WHO pays WHO how much behind close doors. What good is that little statue in every court room that has the blinfolded woman holding a set of scales ?

       4 likes

  14. Mel Bronson says:

    The first thing they teach in law school is that there is NO justice in the U.S. justice system.

    You are seeing the “justice” system in action in this hit and run case.

       4 likes

  15. PC Mom says:

    He may not have had anything to do with the actual event, he did have a lot to do with the events after.
    There is no halo on his head….

       6 likes

    • Magnolia says:

      PC Mom, correct. And did you expect him to grab her by the scruff of the neck and haul her off to the Sheriff’s office?

      Would your husband or Ms. Heiss’ husbands do that?

         1 likes

      • flowers says:

        How can 2 adult people be so irresponsible? And a school board member at that…come on get with it… a woman was killed….where is the max on this sentencing? I would think think it would be involuntarily man slaughter…….where’s the justice?

           0 likes

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