Melissa Arrington swerved from the road twice when she was driving drunk just before she struck and killed Tuscon bicyclist Paul L'Ecuyer in December 2006. She was driving despite having a suspended driver's license from a previous DUI.
Now, these facts in and of themselves are not especially newsworthy in an era when drunk driving fatalities are everyday events. 17,602 fatalities occurred in 2006 in alcohol-related crashes. Between 1983 and 2006, more than 210,000 people have died in crashes involving what the NTSB calls "hard core drinking drivers."
Melissa Arrington, though, is a particularly reprehensible drunken killer, as she was taped by jailers in a conversation with a friend in which she laughed at the victim. You can listen to excerpts of the taped jailhouse phone call at this link.
The man with whom Arrington spoke, in a bizarre attempt to cheer up the incarcerated woman, made light of the fatal accident that took the life of L'Ecuyer:
John says as far as he's concerned, you did the world a favor. Because you took out a f***ing tree hugger, a bicyclist, a Frenchman and a gay guy all in one shot. He's proud of you. He says as far as he's concerned, they should give you a medal and a f***ing parade.On the audio recording, Arrington can be heard laughing at the comments. She later acknowledged that admitted that she is "not supposed to be laughing at stuff like that,'' but then chuckles and tells the caller that "I would have to agree with that."
The jury in the case acquitted Arrington of manslaughter, the most serious charge against her, and convicted her instead of negligent homicide. The audiotape was not allowed as evidence in the proceedings until the sentencing phase.
If there can be any positive news in this sordid tale, it would be the actions of Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael R. Cruikshank. The judge told Arrington that the phone call was "breathtaking in it's inhumanity," and Cruikshank sentenced her to a maximum sentence of 10-and-a-half years in prison, where she will not be likely to need travel insurance.
In an essay like this, I typically close with a condemnatory passage or two about the profiled idiot. In Arrington's case, though, her own words and behavior say more than I ever could about her utter lack of human decency.