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Jail, probation for road rage plea

Six months in jail to start a five-year probation term was the sentence Monday for a North Tonawanda man who pleaded guilty to running another man over in a road rage incident last summer.

Theodore J. Canaski, 22, of Oliver Street, had pleaded guilty to first-degree reckless endangerment and leaving the scene of a serious injury accident without reporting.

Those two felonies could have brought as long as 11 years in state prison, but the victim, Jason S. Klepp, 24, and his girlfriend, Michelle Niro, expressed support for a lesser sentence before Canaski pleaded guilty Nov. 1.

Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III said he thought some jail time was warranted.

Klepp suffered serious head injuries in the June 27 incident in front of an Oliver Street pizzeria. He was on his way to a birthday party for his grandmother when a driver behind him beeped her horn as a traffic signal turned green.

It was Canaski's 18-year-old girlfriend, who was running late for her high school graduation, defense attorney Thomas J. Eoannou said. Canaski was in the passenger seat.

Both cars pulled over in front of Brando's Pizza and Wings, where an employee, Jason A. Patrick, became involved.

Eventually, Klepp climbed onto the hood of Canaski's car, and Canaski got into the driver's seat and stepped on the gas. Klepp fell off, and his head was run over. Police said Patrick was struck in the hip by the departing car, a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt.

Niro, who was called to the scene by Patrick, said Klepp suffered four brain hemorrhages. Klepp was with her in court Monday but made no comment.

Deputy District Attorney Theodore A. Brenner said he preferred Murphy's choice of a split sentence because it means authorities will be keeping an eye on Canaski longer than if he was given a jail sentence alone.

"If he gets the year [in jail], he just serves eight months and he's done," Brenner said.

Klepp and Niro nodded vigorously as Murphy announced that the terms of probation would include drug testing and anger management counseling.

Canaski said the confrontation "was out of control from the beginning. I didn't want anyone to get hurt. This man was on the hood of my car."

"A lapse of judgment on both sides," Eoannou said.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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