D.A May Cut Deal In Deadly Hit-And-Run

After a manhunt and months of waiting, a Maspeth family may get an anticlimactic end for the man accused of killing George Gibbons.

Relatives and friends have attended every hearing leading up to the trial for the man accused of killing George in a drunken hit-and-run collision.

Now, sources close to the case say the Queens District Attorney’s office is working on a plea deal for Peter Rodriguez, who police allege was intoxicated when he drove a Chrysler Sebring head-on into a livery cab carrying George.

George was killed in the Oct. 15 crash, and police say Rodriguez then fled. He was apprehended in Connecticut on Nov. 15.

He’s facing second-degree manslaughter, second- and third-degree assault, criminally negligent homicide and a felony count of leaving the scene of a crime without reporting it.

The charges could land him up to 15 years in prison, but now the Gibbons family is waiting to see if the D.A.’s office will seek the maximum or craft a deal with Rodriguez’s attorney.

“It’s not in our hands,” George Gibbons Sr. said when asked after the hearing about the possibility of a deal. “We have to go along with it.”

On Friday, Feb. 24, the court date for Rodriguez was pushed back until March 23, and sources said the D.A. and the defense were negotiating how much Rodriguez was willing to admit to.

The D.A.’s office would not comment on the case, and Rodriguez’s attorney, Michael Schwed, could not be reached. He did not return an email, and repeated calls were met only with busy signals.

George Sr. and the rest of the Gibbons have continually thanked the community and the Queens D.A. over the past few months for their help.

The D.A. has communicated often with the Gibbons, and after George’s death, neighbors and politicians rallied in Maspeth to offer a $10,000 reward during the manhunt for Rodriguez.

George Sr. remained hopeful after Friday’s hearing that a deal could satisfy him and his family.

“It depends on what sort of plea it is,” George Sr. said. “We would like the maximum for once.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who attended the hearing, was more direct, saying the D.A. should not accept a deal and take Rodriguez to court, aiming to slap him with the full 15 years.

“Peter Rodriguez is a repeat offender who has been given too many deals and second chances within our criminal justice system,” Crowley said. “I strongly urge the District Attorney’s office to pursue the maximum penalties to ensure that career criminals like Rodriguez stay off the streets.”

As she talked with the Gibbons family Friday, Crowley said Rodriguez—who has pleaded guilty to felonies in the past—needs to finally serve a full sentence.

“That’s the frustrating part, that he’s been pleading his whole life,” she said.

By Jeremiah Dobruck




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