An Arizona judge threw the book at a two-time convicted drunk driver who killed a bicyclist and then laughed about it in a jailhouse phone call with a friend.
In the phone call, played during the sentencing hearing, Melissa Arrington, 27, listened, as a friend known only as "Little Joe" makes a tasteless attempt to cheer her up. He tells her that a neighbor said 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 can be heard laughing at the comment. After admitting that she is "not supposed to be laughing at stuff like that,'' she seems to reconsider and a minute or so later she says, with a giggle, "I would have to agree with that."
Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael R. Cruikshank told Arrington that the call was "breathtaking in it's inhumanity," and sentenced her to the near maximum: 10-and-a-half years in jail.
When Little Joe told Arrington he knew it was a terrible thing to say, she responded, "No, it's not,'' according to a recording of the call obtained by ABC News Law & Justice Unit.
The family of her victim, Paul L'Ecuyer, a caregiver at a local group home in Arizona, were in court and heard the tape for the first time at Arrington's sentencing.
"It was fairly stunning," Cruikshank said in a telephone interview with ABC News on Thursday. "It's got to have been a very difficult thing [for the victim's family] to hear."
Deputy Pima County Attorney Jonathan Mosher said he came across the call as part of a routine review of jailhouse communications. He sought to introduce the audiotape at trial for the jury, but Judge Cruikshank ruled against the motion,saying that the proper venue for the airing of the audio was at sentencing.
The jury acquitted Arrington of manslaughter, the most serious charge against her, and convicted her of negligent homicide.
"For whatever warped reason, he was trying to cheer her up,'' Arrington's attorney, Assistant Pima County Public Defender Michael Rosenbluth said. "That's not to say that it excuses her and not saying it's not outrageous, but it's not that easy when you're in custody. You'll sometimes talk to anybody."