BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — When Gabriele Ballowe learns how much time she’ll spend in prison on Dec. 20, it will be almost exactly three years after prosecutors said she hit Barry Moss and left him to die on the side of the road.
It will signal the end of what has been a heart wrenching process for Moss’ family, who wanted nothing more than to hear Ballowe admit her role.
A conviction nearly three years in the making, Ballowe on Monday pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an incident resulting in serious physical injury, a class E felony.
“When we came in here this morning, she was facing a maximum of 15 years,” said Ballowe’s attorney Thomas Eoannou. “The proposal is now serving a maximum of eight months.”
Moss was walking his bike along what attorneys described as a dark and foggy Route 5 in the early morning hours of Dec. 22, 2013, when Ballowe hit him.
“She struck Barry Moss and left him for dead,” said acting Erie County District Attorney Michael Flaherty.
Ballowe was arrested in June after being indicted on charges of first- and second-degree vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. The more serious charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.
Considering the prison time she initially faced, Ballowe’s attorney considered the plea a win for his client.
“This is the second time in three years that the district attorney’s office will be moving to dismiss the manslaughter counts against Gabe,” Eoannou said. “And that’s because the accident was not her fault.”
Flaherty said the family supported the plea, and for them, it finally brought closure to what has already been an agonizing three years.
“No more uncertainty, no more wondering,” Flaherty said. “It’s never over. There’s always the uncertainty. They never get to hear the person who took the life of their loved one, I did it.”
Added Flaherty: “They have finality now. This family has been through a lot. We all stand equal in the law and should be held accountable. No one deserves to die like Barry did-injured and alone in the freezing rain.”
Town of Evans police led the investigation. In fact, they still have Ballowe’s car impounded as evidence.
Chief Ernest Masullo said his department was confident in their case from day one.
“The most satisfaction for law enforcement is that you come to a finality,” Masullo said. “All your fruits of your labor come to what happened today. We got a conviction, although not what I wanted, but it’s a felony, she’s going to live with it. She’s going to have a lot of restrictions being a convicted felon.”
Ballowe claimed she never saw Moss, and that she only heard a scraping sound.
“She did not think that it was serious,” Eoannou said. “The shoulder was very narrow. Her home was a mile away. She thought it would be best that she drive home and look at the damage in the morning.”
There were other circumstances, according to police.
When asked whether Masullo believed Ballowe was intoxicated at the time, he responded: “Absolutely. The evidence again, shows, that she was. When she went in front of the administrative law judge, he pulled her license, because there was enough evidence there that she was behind the wheel and she was drinking and driving.”
Ballowe’s attorney disputes the accusation that his client was drunk at the time, and points to the fact that it wasn’t among the charges. But Masullo says, given dozens of interviews of people who saw Ballowe that night, he has no doubt she was intoxicated.
Ballowe will remain out of jail until she’s sentenced on Dec. 20.