Woman Sentenced to Up to Three Years Behind Bars for UWS Hit-and-Run
By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A hit and run driver who mowed down a retired nurse on the Upper West Side made a tearful apology to the family of her victim at an emotional sentencing on Tuesday.
Jessica Altruz, sobbed as she read an apology to the family of Margaret Fisher, 67, who she hit and killed Nov. 26, 2010, when she floored the gas of her Dodge Charger and raced through the intersection of Columbus Ave. and 93rd Street to beat a yellow traffic light.
"Sorry just seems so inadequate," said the young mother, who was sentenced to up to three years in prison but who may serve as little as six months behind bars as a result of since her arrest last year.
The 24-year-old Bronx woman pleaded guilty on May 12 to second-degree manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. She faced up to 15 years in prison but prosecutors only asked for up to three years behind bars, with the support of the family.
In a statement Altruz read to the court Tuesday, she said she drove away after the accident because of an "automatic response" of fear. She hit Fisher with such force, the woman's body smashed through the windshield before flying into the air.
Altruz was arrested at a red light a block from the crash scene, where she allegedly told police, "I had the light."
Philip Fisher, the victim's brother, told the judge that he and his siblings accepted the DA's suggested sentence of one to three years incarceration for Altruz because jail wouldn't bring his sister back.
"There's no way to fix this to make it right," the victim's brother said, adding he and his siblings "have no objection" to the proposed sentence.
"We recognize that this is a tragic event for everyone involved, most of all for our sister, Margaret, who lost years of a happy and useful life and for us, her brothers, and for the rest of her family," he said.
"But we also recognize it is tragic for the defendant and her family as well," he added
More than a dozen members of Altruz' family, including her four year old daughter, Destiny, attended the sentencing. Altruz blew them kisses and smiled at them as she was taken out of the courtroom.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Bonnie Wittner said she felt strongly that Altruz face prison time, and rejected her lawyers' request that she be sentenced to probation.
"I'm not saying the defendant is a bad person, but she did a very bad and reckless thing," Wittner said.