Town of Evans Police Chief Ernest Masullo reacts to the guilty plea entered by Gabriele Ballowe in connection with the Barry Moss hit-and-run case.
The guilty plea was entered Monday morning (10/24) in State Supreme Court in Buffalo.
Barry Boss was struck and killed as he walked with a bicycle along Route 5 in the Town of Evans around midnight December 21, 2013. His family said that he was left to freeze to death by the side of the road.
Evans Police quickly identified Ballowe as the prime suspect after her SUV was found at a Dunkirk repair shop with damage and Moss's DNA on it.
But proving that Ballowe was behind the wheel became a challenge with a Grand Jury failing to indict her and Ballowe refusing to talk with police.
"That only made us want to work harder," said Chief Masullo.
An administrative law judge for the Department of Motor Vehicles took away Ballowe's driver's license after the judge found sufficient evidence that Ballowe was driving while impaired by alcohol.
Ballowe had a previous DWAI conviction in October 2005.
Earlier this year, evidence showed that one of Ballowe's friend's had lied to the Grand Jury about Ballowe's actions on the night of the fatal accident.
That resulted in perjury charges against Lynn Laetner.
It was followed by criminal charges against Ballowe that included Vehicular Manslaughter, Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death and Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Serious Injury.
Those charges could have landed Ballowe in jail for up to 15 years.
As part of a plea deal arranged by Acting Erie County District Attorney Mike Flaherty, Jr., Ballowe agreed to plead guilty to Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Serious Injury and will be subject to jail time of 1 1/3 to 4 years.
Flaherty appeared with Barry Moss's family afterwards at a news conference where they said the agreement came about to prevent a lengthy trial and appeals process. Barry Moss's daughter said it provided the family with "closure and justice,"
Defense Attorney Thomas Eoannou told reporters that he expects his client to serve no more than eight months. Eoannou saying the Ballowe heard what sounded like a scraping noise as she drove along Route 5 in December 2013 with dark, rainy conditions. "It was an accident. It wasn't Gab's fault," said Eoannou.
Gabriele Ballowe will be sentenced on December 20 - which is almost exactly three years from the date that Barry Moss was struck and killed.
Reporter Ed Reilly has more reaction in his reports.
Also hear from 7 Eyewitness News Legal Analyst Florina Altshiler who explains why the guilty plea on the lesser charge could have saved the family from years of dealing with this case in court.
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