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Local man pleads guilty after accepting bargain

Jan. 17, 2001

Freshman died after man hit her with his car almost 1 year ago

By JOHN HALL

Staff writer

A 26-year-old Waco man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of failing to stop and render aid in an accident that killed freshman Malisa Caffey last January.

Patrick Franklin Fischel of 4321 Hillcrest Drive accepted a plea bargain of five years probation, the maximum time of probation for the charge. The maximum punishment for the crime is five years in a state penitentiary and a $5,000 fine.

Caffey was leaving a Kappa Kappa Gamma mixer with Kappa Omega Tau on Jan. 19 when Fischel hit her with his truck at the intersection of Bagby Avenue and 9th Street and continued down the road. She died at the scene. Fischel was charged on Jan. 20.

First Waco Assistant District Attorney Crawford Long said he offered the reduced penalty following a conversation with the Caffey family on Monday.

'Our family has not sought vengeance in this matter,' the Caffey family said in a written statement Tuesday. 'Our only objective in this tragic incident was to determine the facts and ultimately for the defendant to be held accountable for his actions.'

'Nothing will ever be able to compensate us for the loss of our daughter or for the devastation this has caused our family. However, we remain strong in our faith and take great comfort in knowing that the judicial process has allowed for the truth to be known.'

Judge George Allen of the 54th District Court will preside over pre-sentencing, where he will decide whether the plea is appropriate for the situation.

Long said the plea is usually accepted in this type of case, but could be overturned if Fischel fails to cooperate with his assigned probation officer.

Long also said a plea bargain is not unusual for a case of this nature. He said he found only one similar case in the Waco area that went to court in the past 10 years.