As the result of a plea deal reached in October, Gabriele Ballowe received a sentence of one year in prison Tuesday for the 2013 hit-and-run death of a man in the Town of Evans.
Sentencing for Ballowe came one day before the third anniversary of the incident, which happened along Route 5. Barry Moss was riding his bicycle when he was struck. He died of his injuries after being left at the scene.
In October, Ballowe accepted a plea deal, admitting to a Class E felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident that causes injury and failing to report it. She reportedly had been drinking that evening but her blood-alcohol level was never recorded. Her attorney, Thomas Eoannou, suggests other factors including weather and the victim's own intoxication may have played roles in the tragedy.
"I think it's every driver's nightmare when you're going down a road, and it's dark and it's snowy, you're a mile from home and you hear what sounds like a scraping noise," Eoannou said outside the courtroom.
Members of the victim's family dispute Eoannou's interpretation of the story. Maria Wrafter, Moss' sister, says the reports and statements she has read in her brother's case paint a different picture of what happened.
"I know that my 196-pound brother was struck hard enough to bend the frame of that SUV," Wrafter said during a news conference inside the Erie County District Attorney's office. "I know that the bike was not struck. There was no scraping. There was just the thud of my brother on her car."
The plea deal reached in October was approved by Moss' family, said Acting Erie County DA Michael Flaherty. It was a decision they made, he explained, in order to reach closure.
"As I've said many time before, it is never the wrong time to do the right thing," Flaherty said. "Today, nearly three years after his death, the right thing happened."
Cassandra Moss, one of the victim's daughters, addressed State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns just before sentencing. She spoke of her father as a fun-loving individual who was also a skilled handyman who taught family members how to fix things. She also spoke of how family members were devastated by news of her father's death, including a six-year-old nephew who was old enough to understand television reports about the incident.
"I don't think she ever really heard it from us, but she killed my dad," Moss said following court proceedings. "I wanted her to hear me say 'you killed my dad.'"