Erie County prosecutors have begun presenting evidence to a grand jury in connection with a controversial and mysterious hit-and-run death in the Town of Evans.
The district attorney’s office is presenting evidence about the death of Barry “Bob” Moss, 52, a handyman who was left to die in the snow off Route 5 after a sport utility vehicle struck him early on the morning of Dec. 22, three sources with knowledge of the case told The Buffalo News.
Ultimately, members of the grand jury will be asked to decide whether someone should be charged. No timetable has been made public on when that decision will be made.
Moss’s death has caused outrage among some residents of Evans because police say they determined months ago who owned the SUV that killed Moss but have not filed any charges yet. One of Moss’ three daughters started a Facebook page seeking a resolution to the case, and 150 lawns signs have been posted all over the town, asking residents to “Pray for Justice for Barry Moss.”
“Our family has had a lot of support, not only from friends, but from people who never knew my brother,” Moss’ sister, Maria Wrafter, said on Friday. “I think this case strikes a chord with people. They think, ‘That could have been someone in my family who was hit and left to die out there.’ ”
Moss’ family and law enforcement sources have identified Gabriele “Gabe” Ballowe, 48, one of the proprietors of a popular beachfront bar, as the owner of the Ford SUV that fatally injured Moss. Those sources said Ballowe has refused to answer questions from Evans Police about who was driving her SUV, how the vehicle got damaged, or why it was taken to a collision shop in Dunkirk for repairs.
“I have spoken to the assistant district attorney, and we are aware that people have been subpoenaed to the grand jury, and that the case is going before the grand jury,” Ballowe’s attorney, Thomas J. Eoannou, said on Friday.
Eoannou acknowledged that he has represented Ballowe in connection with the Moss hit-and-run investigation since at least January. He said he could not comment Friday on any of the circumstances surrounding the accident.
The veteran defense attorney asked that Evans residents not jump to conclusions about what happened on Dec. 22, but added that he understands why people have posted lawn signs and started a Facebook page demanding answers.
“It’s all very understandable that people’s emotions are running high,” Eoannou said. “The bottom line for the grand jury will be, ‘Was there a crime committed here?’ The grand jury will make its decision, and we’ll deal with the consequences.”
Evans Police officials and District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Sedita has previously acknowledged that his office was working closely with Evans Police on its investigation. Police Lt. Douglas Czora, the lead investigator, told The News on Feb. 15 that his department was “definitely making progress” and that “some people have come forward” with information. But he declined to be more specific.
Ballowe and her husband, Gary, are co-owners of the state liquor license for the South Shore Beach Club on Old Lakeshore Road, one of several popular beachfront bars in the town. Gabriele Ballowe has repeatedly declined to comment on the case.
After Ballowe’s SUV was damaged on Dec. 22, someone took the vehicle to a collision shop in Dunkirk – about 20 miles southwest of Evans – for repairs, rather than choosing one of several nearby collision shops, The News reported in January. Sources said police impounded the vehicle several days after the accident and have been holding it for evidence ever since.
Moss, a father and grandfather who lived in Evans, was struck and killed near the intersection of Route 5 and Gold Street, a few minutes from the home of a friend whom he had visited. Police said Moss had his bicycle with him and may have been riding it when he was hit, three days before Christmas.