TUCSON, Arizona — 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 cyclist she killed.
Melissa Arrington, 27, was convicted two months ago of negligent homicide and two counts of aggravated drunk-driving in connection with the December 2006 death of Paul L'Ecuyer.
She could have received 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.
Cruikshank said he found a telephone conversation between Arrington and an unknown male friend, a week after L'Ecuyer was killed, to be "breathtaking in its inhumanity."
During the conversation, the man told Arrington 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."
Lawyer: She's always felt remorseful
Assistant Public Defender Michael Rosenbluth told the judge his client has never been "cold, callous or flippant" about L'Ecuyer's death and has always felt remorseful.
Arrington said words couldn't express how she feels, and that once she's out of prison, she hopes to share her story with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
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 drink-drive conviction.
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