WHEATFIELD – Lisa Fischer, whose 16-year-old son died in 2014 after being struck by a hit-and-run driver, now faces charges she tried to run over the man who killed her son.
Fischer faces three felonies, including a higher count of driving while intoxicated because she has a prior misdemeanor DWI conviction.
The Niagara County Sheriff's Office arrested the North Tonawanda mother March 6 and charged her with drunken driving, attempted assault, criminal mischief, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless endangerment.
Anthony J. DiFilippo, who on Nov. 20, 2014, struck Ryan Fischer and then left the scene in Wheatfield, called 911 on March 6 and reported Lisa Fischer was ringing his doorbell and banging on the windows of his house on Michael Drive in Wheatfield, according to a sheriff's report.
DiFilippo told deputies he had gone outside to try to calm Fischer, who returned to her car by the time he went outside.
The police report said Fischer "accelerated the vehicle forward in an apparent attempt to strike him."
DiFilippo said he jumped out of the way. Fischer's 2012 Chevrolet Malibu crashed into his garage doors. She then drove away, DiFilippo told authorities.
Deputy Chris Butts spotted Fischer's car on nearby Larry Court and pulled her over. Fischer "had glassy eyes and slurred her speech," Butts said.
Fischer failed five field sobriety tests, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The deputy said he also noticed white scuff marks on the front of Fischer's car, while another deputy, Guy Fratello, reported damage to two garage doors, a scrape to the rear bumper of DiFilippo's auto and muddy footprints near the house.
The March 6 incident wasn't the first time Fischer allegedly harassed DiFilippo, but it was the most serious, said Thomas J. Eoannou, the attorney who worked out DiFilippo's plea bargain over the fatal hit-and-run case.
"He understands her grief and pain completely," Eoannou said. "It has happened before, but the only reason he called the police this time was because of safety."
More than two years ago, DiFilippo's Nissan Murano struck Ryan Fischer from behind as the teenager and his girlfriend walked along Krueger Road in Wheatfield.
It's believed that the teenager, who never regained consciousness and was taken off life support the next day, probably was walking in the traffic lane, since there was no sidewalk on Krueger Road at the time, but only a narrow strip of grass separating the pavement from a drainage ditch.
His girlfriend, Leeza Kalish, 19, later told reporters Ryan was "half in the pavement and half in the grass."
DeFilippo pleaded guilty to a felony charge of attempting to leave the scene of a fatal accident without reporting. DiFilippo served a six-month jail term and is on five years' probation.
After DiFilippo pleaded guilty May 25 with the promise of no state prison time, Lisa Fischer told reporters, “We definitely wanted longer jail. It could be his whole life, and it wouldn’t be enough."
At his sentencing, DiFilippo told State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr., “I am so sorry for this tragic accident. It happened so fast, Your Honor. I think of Ryan and his family every day. They will always be in my heart.”
Fischer pleaded not guilty to the charges against her in Wheatfield Town Court, where further proceedings are scheduled for May 16.
Fischer's criminal attorney, Edward A. Zebulske III, and her civil attorney, Christopher M. Pannozzo, did not return two calls from The Buffalo News Wednesday.
Fischer, 37, of Ruie Road, is pursuing a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against DiFilippo.
In response to the wrongful death suit, DiFilippo's attorney, Philip C. Barth III, contended DiFilippo "was confronted by an emergency situation and/or unavoidable accident, and acted in a reasonably prudent manner under the circumstances."
Eoannou said after the sentencing that he believed DiFilippo would not have been arrested if he hadn't left the scene.
After the hit-and-run, DiFilippo repaired a broken headlight on his vehicle himself and had other collision damage repaired at "an out-of-the-way shop," because all Niagara County collision shops had been asked to be on the lookout for a Nissan Murano with front-end damage, according to Theodore A. Brenner, who was acting Niagara County district attorney when DiFilippo was sentenced.
The Sheriff's Office seized DiFilippo's vehicle a month after the crash and spent months trying to match small pieces of metal found at the accident scene. He was not charged until 10 months after Ryan Fischer's death.
DiFilippo, who had no prior criminal record, was not charged with vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide because those charges imply that the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and police concluded that he was not under the influence.
Besides the jail and probation, Kloch sentenced him to house arrest for the duration of his probation except for work, school, medical appointments and religious services. DiFilippo, who did not return a call to his home Wednesday, also was ordered to wear a GPS bracelet for a year after his release.