Spewing Hatred

[This is an old case: it happened in Tucson before 2009, but it has a bit of a twist… ]

December 1, 2006: A driver plows into the rear end of a bicyclist in a Tuscon-area Bike Lane (or probably more accurately, a shoulder), killing him. The young woman driving is drunk, very drunk. She tried for manslaughter, gets convicted of the lesser included charge of negligent homicide by the jury; here’s the twist, a phone call from jail while awaiting sentencing (from what i remember, all jail phone calls are monitored/recorded) causes her to receive the max sentence:

During the conversation, the man told Arrington [the drunk driver] that an acquaintance believed she should get a medal and a parade because she had “taken out” a “tree hugger, a bicyclist, a Frenchman and a gay guy all in one shot.”

Arrington laughed. When the man said he knew it was a terrible thing to say, she responded, “No, it’s not.”

Harsh justice? I would say not, she should have been convicted of (at least) manslaughter. Oh, and get this: she’s a repeater, at the time  “driving on a suspended license for a prior DUI”. The aggravated DUI charge sentence was most likely was sentenced concurrently. Why did the prosecutor cook up this sweet deal in the first place? correction: there was a trial, see comment below.

This story has additional notable unrelated weirdnesses, while police were investigating the scene on southbound Old Spanish Trail:

While deputies were at the scene of the crash, another person suspected of drinking and driving barreled through barricades and cones that were set up, Woolridge said.  The driver, a 20-year-old man, struck an unoccupied patrol car, flipped and slid into a second patrol car carrying a Sheriff’s Department volunteer, Woolridge said.

We can only hope the Melissa has dried out in prison and won’t be driving impaired anymore; she also at the time of her sentencing pledged to become an anti-DUI evangelist, that would be nice. She I would guess got out of prison sometime around 2015 (85% time).  I’d be curious to know how the license revocation for the neg homicide (3 years per 28-3304. Mandatory revocation) and the agg DUI works (1 year per 28-1383; and she had two counts for some reason), it seems like time incarcerated shouldn’t count toward revocation time but I don’t see that stated anywhere.

Woman Gets Maximum Prison Term After Laughing About Murder Victim’s Death
Published January 24, 2008 Associated Press
TUCSON, Ariz. – A judge sentenced a woman to nearly the maximum prison term for negligent homicide after hearing a recorded jail conversation in which she made light of the bicyclist she killed….

She could have gotten as few as four years behind bars, but Superior Court Judge Michael Cruikshank sentenced her Tuesday to 10 1/2 years — one year shy of the maximum.

Melissa Arrington, 27, was convicted two months ago of negligent homicide and two counts of aggravated DUI in connection with the December 2006 death of Paul L’Ecuyer.

… L’Ecuyer, 45, was riding his bike the night of Dec. 1, 2006 when Arrington swerved off the road, hit him and then continued for 800 feet before stopping, according to Deputy Pima County Attorney Jonathan Mosher… Arrington’s blood-alcohol content was .156 percent, nearly double Arizona’s .08 legal limit. She had been driving on a suspended license for a prior DUI.

Possibly not coincidentally, the sentence of 10.5 years is the same as the presumptive sentence for manslaughter. ?

The max for neg hom (F4) is 8 years by itself (and min is 4 which was mentioned in the article) If the other terms mentioned in the article are correct, that she was sentenced overall to a year less than the maximum would imply by subtraction that she got 2.5 years for something else (the aggravated dui, which is itself a F4, at least it is now?). More about sentencing in general, see Arizona’s Truth in Sentencing Law.

The Trial

There’s a fairly long article about the trial that I don’t recall reading before… Bicyclist-death DUI case goes to jurors about how the defendant had a few drinks and was “definitely” OK to drive. She attributed her swerving (three times, apparently, with the third the one that killed the bicyclist) was due to her using hand sanitizer while driving.

Civil Settlement

Bar, insurance company to pay more than $1M to parents of bicyclist killed by drunken driver:

Berky’s agreed to pay Barbara Nordlund and Robert L’Ecuyer $1 million in the death of Paul L’Ecuyer, and Melissa Arrington’s insurance company agreed to pay $25,000 on Monday — one day before the case was to go to trial in Pima County Superior Court, said plaintiff’s attorney John Osborne.

 Phew, $25,000. I forget if AZ ever raised the limit. Yet another problem with dangerous negligent drivers.

Other Records

  • 2006 DUI: TR-6005413
  • 2002 No insurance: TR-2115720 both in Tucson Muni Court

There’s apparently also another Melissa Marie Arrrington (different birthday), who had some charges in Maricopa Co superior court in 2010

One thought on “Spewing Hatred”

  1. This case was tried to a jury. There was no plea deal. The jury considered the charge of manslaughter but returned a verdict of negligent homicide.

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