NBC-2: Chesser sentenced to 3 years
Amy must serve two years of probation
LAKELAND — The Second District Court of Appeal affirmed record-winning Swamp Buggy Racer Amy Chesser’s conviction and sentence Friday, rejecting arguments that she was denied a fair trial.
The court’s per curiam affirmance, a ruling without a written decision, means Chesser must surrender herself for sentencing after the court sends a mandate to Collier Circuit Court, which will take about 30 days.
“We await the mandate from the DCA,” said Assistant State Attorney Mara Marzano, who prosecuted Chesser during her trial last year. “Sentencing will then proceed.”
Chesser’s defense attorney, Donald Day of Naples, could not immediately be reached for comment Friday to determine whether he will file a motion to mitigate the sentence.
Day argued the appeal March 10 before the three-judge panel, which heard arguments from Assistant State Attorney General Donna Koch, who represented the state.
Collier Circuit Judge Elizabeth Krier sentenced Chesser last June to three years in a state prison, in addition to two years of probation after her release.
Krier ruled the injuries to Eliza Masco, then 39, were severe, not moderate, as the defense argued.
Within minutes, however, Chesser was released on $15,000 bond after Day filed a notice of appeal.
Chesser had been in the county jail since May 20, 2009, when jurors acquitted her of aggravated battery and convicted her of a lesser-and-included offense, felony battery, a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of five years in a state prison. The higher offense, a second-degree felony, carries a 15-year maximum.
At trial, Chesser testified Masco threatened her so she defended herself Aug. 15, 2007, when they fought outside Masco’s gated community, Key Royal Villas in North Naples. They’d driven there because Masco’s boyfriend, Robbie Daffin Jr., wanted to fight with Masco’s ex-husband, Brian Langford, who was dating Chesser.
The men got black eyes, but neither pressed charges, while Masco was driven to the hospital by Daffin and pressed charges. At trial, Day argued — and Chesser testified — Masco’s injuries were likely caused when she slipped in the rain and hit the truck’s bumper before hitting the ground.
Masco suffered a fractured right eye socket, a broken nose, a concussion, a detached retina, broken teeth, cuts, bruises and neurological damage. The mother of two testified she’s had several operations and hasn’t worked as a cosmetologist since then.
In the appeal, Day argued Krier prohibited jurors from hearing evidence that would have allowed 27-year-old Chesser to show she was acting in self-defense when she fought with Eliza Masco in 2007.
He also contended jurors should have been allowed to hear that Masco repeatedly texted her ex-husband, Brian Langford, a key witness, to try to get him to change his testimony; that Masco wanted to bolster her attempt to claim $69,000 from the state victim fund; the judge didn’t allow jurors to hear about Masco’s past aggressive incidents; and that she was angry and aggressive shortly before the altercation, not calm as she’d testified.