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.
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.
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.
Jamesine Fischer gets a slap on the wrist, while the Pecqueur family just got a slap in the face! Shameful and disgusting!
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.
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.
How very sad says
21 to 36 months in jail for a hit and run? Hardly seems like justice for killing Mrs. Pecqueur.
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..
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.
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.
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!
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.
Given some of Mr. Fisher’s public pronouncements, it seems he has justifiably earned his own notoriety.
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 . . .
That prove only one thing that the fucking system sucks.It’s politic & money talk
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.
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.
Charles Gardner says
The system usually works.
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.
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…..
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!
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.
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 ?
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.
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….
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?
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?
Ben Dover says
Everyone seems to just ignore our city counsels blame here, this is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Palm Coast, it should of had sidewalks yrs ago, had there been one, or at least decent lighting , this poor woman would still be alive, but no, they moved the one side walk on Belle Terre 3 times, then put in another one on the other side, waste , waste , waste, this is why there is no money for the water treatment plant, the money we`ve given them ten fold, with our ridiculously high water bills, has been squandered away by their mismanagement of funds, now they want us to pay for it all over again with this 18% increase,they`ve got 3 times the amount of sprinkler heads in the median on Belle Terre,, they waste soooo much of this so called hard to come by water by flooding not only the road , but the plants in the beds as well , root rot is what happens, then us suckers have to pay to replace the plants, it never ends with these thieving liars, I say we make them use the money from their 52 rigged up lights to pay for the pump stations we don t need anyway , this town is not growing , they`ve ruined it, as soon as people can afford to get out they do, they`ve turned PC into a slum with the ghetto fencing up and down Belle Terre, the section eights in our neighborhoods, the tenements they`ve built, and the lack of jobs, no matter what dirty rock you turn over in this town , you find this counsel and Mayors finger prints on it, they should all be locked up for raiding our funds for utilities, and this gross abuse of the traffic camera`s an d the tampering they did to their timing, everyone needs to show up at these counsel meetings, and demand they use their ill gotten money from the cams , to use on the water treatment plants, if we don t they will continue to screw us
Reality Check says
This is a farce, she did not admit she hit the woman until the defense moved away from the tactic that she left the scene, to she intentionally did not admit she was involved. She struck and killed a woman and now she will get 2-3 years in prison, which in my opinion is a joke. As far as her husband being dragged thru the mud, he is just as guilty as her, he tried to use his political connections to get her out of the situation; he should step down from his position. Our system is failing us, Casey Anthony trail starts it here in FL, Jury did not want to be there (sequestered, away from family) they did a shotgun verdict and the lying murdering bitch was set free. I guess now lying to the authorities is okay in a sense, then going for the plea deal and not being held accountable is the new trend. We as a society need to show our outrage at the failure in our local & federal government systems, why is it okay to do a terrible job in government and still be employed? In the private sector you end up out the door, but in government it seems as though mediocre performance is acceptable, I just do not get it.
ok, so if I am ever DUI and I hit someone…best thing to do is run, wait it out and then serve only two years…got it…good to know.
Where is the law and back bone in this state of Florida?…… Anthony got away with it….Fischer got away with killing some one too……
What system? Hit a person, leave ’em for dead in a ditch, and you get slapped on the wrist?
I’m glad it is over, and that the poor woman killed can now rest in peace. I continue to pray for all of those impacted and hope they are provided the comfort and love they all need to be able to move on.
Is anyone really surprised?
The fix was in from the beginning.
If the case had gone to trial outside of this county she may not have gotten off lightly.
I don’t believe that the judge is bound by any deals between the prosecutor and defense attorney. He can levy the punishment he feels is just.
[email protected] says
it would have been a different outcome if the fcso responded to the scene but t;he dispatcher who is miles away dispatched on medical reasons and the medics did not realize until hours later it was not a fall, mistakes all along from the very beginning. deputies should have responded regardless to make sure there was no foul play and this is an accredited agency.
There’s no excuse for what she did. I feel sorry for the family of the deceased. I also do feel sympathy for Mr.Fischer, after meeting him at several school functions before and after I can say he was very pleasant to talk with. He surely did not deserve the negative attention during this.
PC Mom says
That lady didn’t deserve to lay dying on the side if the road, while Mrs Fischer sat and said nothing.
This is absolutley disgusting,,,, like what the hell is wrong with this monster.. i dont get this lady MURDERED this old woman and thought it was a poodle… sat on the side of the road while the paramedics attended this old woman as a passerby like she knew nothing about what the hell she just did and waited a whole day to confess after she lied… bullshit my brother n law didtn kill anyone and he is recieving 10 years in and 10 years out this is mad dumb. plus the old sheriff was in on this as well… smh
I believe this woman should get more time then what is being suggested by both parties. This is definitely a case of who you know. If this person was black under 30 this sentencing suggestion would easily be 10 years prison with loss of license for life.
The really very sad part about this is that a person died, was left for dead in a ditch. Or worse left in the ditch to die?? Ms. Pecqueur may have lived should Fischer had been a human being and at least called 911 quickly. Then drove off!!!!
The courts are not the issue here but some real remorse is the issue. I’m not about Mr. John Fischer either I don’t think his darling of a wife even told him the truth until some hours later that this may have been a person she hit. What would he have known if she even lied to him. Why doubt your wife? RIGHT?
I’m not sticking up for Mr. Fischer all I’m saying is Jamesine Fischer still seems like remore is only now setting in as the sentence is getting ready to be handed out.
She makes me sick………….PJ
Interesting comments….easy to understand how public lynchings got started.
She couldn’t get a fair trial after all the publicity this has gotten in the media and on here. People ASSUME and condemn before they know all the facts. What a shame that the media has this power to ruin people’s reputation and lives. You’d think Mrs. Fischer was a cold blooded murderer and ran that poor women over on purpose. Just remember, this could happen to you at any given minute you are driving your car. Your life can be changed in seconds too. Going from a law abiding citizen to being called awful things because of one mistake. Judge as you’d want to be judged, fairly after ALL the facts are known not just assumptions. I pray for both families that they find peace. Sounds like most are looking for revenge in the statements I’ve read on here and that never gives you peace.
Nancy N. says
Totally agree with Magnolia…People so often seem to think they have the right to be judge, jury and executioner when they don’t even have all the facts about an incident. Just wait till the shoe is on the other foot one day and see how you like facing an internet firing squad that is out for your blood over some real or imagined fault of yours.
For everyone saying “Mr Fischer should have done this, or that…” all I can say is, it’s easy to second guess his and his wife’s actions after the fact and from the sidelines. When you are living this horror, the confusion and terror and shock are overwhelming. Can any of you really say what you would do in those terrible moments, how you would handle such an unknown and stressful situation? Unless you’ve lived it, you cannot. Could Mr Fischer have handled it better than he did? Ideally, yes. But…none of you are entitled to self-righteous certainty that you would have done any better than he did unless you actually have walked in his shoes. So keep your judgement to yourself unless you have walked that walk.
Why would you blame Mr.Fischer for something Mrs.Fischer did. For all we know he might not have found out until the police showed up at his doorstep. geez just because his wife screwed up doesn’t mean he is just as crazy. You can’t blame one persons stupidity for anothers ignorance of the situation. He most likely didn’t know anything until the cops rang the bell.
no public lynching she killed a person without telling anyone for hours.
Ms. Pecqueur may have lived with proper medical attention!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The responders should have known immediately that it was more than a fall. Why did it take the so called professionals so long to decide her injuries were more serious? I wouldn’t want to be taken to that hospital!! Why arn’t there sidewalks? I read all the time about people getting hit because of walking in the streets. I’d be screaming to the city about some improvements to that area! This could happen again if these conditions are not improved on. It could be YOU the next time! Lives are changed in the matter of seconds sometimes. Don’t be so quick to judge others.
I ride my bicycle and see dozens around Palm Coast running stop signs. While driving I have little old ladies and men speeding past me. Yes they have sheriff stickers all over thier bumpers and windows as if its a license to haul ass. So it’s no surprise that these crashes happen. I would like to see saturation patrols to start citing these yahoos. Just watch the stop signs on Pine lakes parkway n from wood haven to Belle terre parkway and you will see what I mean. Flagler deputies are busy but maybe it’s a consideration for the sheriff to consider.
As to not pick on seniors this disregard for our traffic safety laws applies to all readers cause I see everyone else doing it too.
Y’all think the light sentence is a shame…..put this in your lil pipe and smoke it. If that lil phn call to the Sheriff hadn’t been uncovered Steve Alexander would have performed his famous deny defense and she wouldn’t have done a day.