Drunk Driver Gets 18 Years In Prison

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Dave Goddard stared straight ahead with head in hands, showing no emotion as the drunk driver who killed his wife, son and stepson sobbingly apologized for causing the July 24 auto accident that claimed their lives.

The scene unfolded April 14 in Maricopa County Superior Court where judge Michael Gordon sentenced Rigoberto Arrazola, 31, to 18 years in prison.

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Rigoberto Arrazola

Arrazola, handcuffed and wearing prison stripes, looked directly at Goddard and said, "This will haunt me every day of my life. I ask you to forgive me."

The request was also aimed at Goddard's 13-year-old daughter, Alexandrea, who sat quietly in court behind her father.

She too survived the deadly crash that occurred on Beeline Highway while the Goddard family was returning to their new home in Payson from a shopping trip in the Valley.

Arrazola, the driver of the SUV that struck Goddard's northbound Tahoe sending it spinning out of control, pleaded guilty Feb. 27 to three counts of manslaughter, two counts of endangerment and one count of aggravated assault.

At the sentencing, prosecutor Jennifer Green asked Gordon to hand down a seven-year term for each of the three who died in the crash.

"Seven plus seven plus seven, a maximum 21 years, to send a message each life is to be respected," she said.

Arrazola's attorney, Amy Nguyen, countered by asking Gordon for a minimum sentence of 16 years, saying her client was remorseful and had accepted responsibility for what he had done.

However, a presentence report delivered to the judge indicated Arrazola was not remorseful and believed the wreck was an unavoidable accident.

Green said she found the report "shocking" and argued that her client was guilt-ridden about what he had done.

But on the day of his sentencing, in Arrazola's plea to David and Alexandrea Goddard, he denied running the stop sign at the intersection of Beeline and Bush highways and said he had consumed only three and a half beers during the daylong outing at Saguaro Lake.

Department of Public Safety reports indicate Arrazola "failed to yield" at the stop, and a blood sample taken from him was .080 percent alcohol, or the exact legal minimum needed to charge a driver with driving impaired.

DPS officers said the blood alcohol content (BAC) was probably much higher at the time of the accident. In the length of time it took to obtain a search warrant to draw blood from Arrazola -- three to four hours -- the alcohol concentration dropped significantly, they believe.

In Dave Goddard's impassioned address to the court, he said he found it difficult to believe Arrazola had consumed only 3 1/2 beers prior to the accident.

Goddard also detailed the evening of the horrific accident, saying it was his daughter who probably had suffered the most.

He told of having to drag her out of the overturned SUV and across the bodies of his wife Pernilla, 39, stepson Simon Berglund, 14, and son William Goddard, 13.

"Those will always be her worst memories," Goddard said.

He also indicated his own anguish, saying, "These three that meant so much me will not be coming back," and that the Payson home he had just purchased is "now only an empty shell of a house."

Goddard's address to the court did not include a recommendation about the prison sentence to be given Arrazola.

Instead, he left the decision up to the judge but did say the awkward intersection where the crash occurred played a role in the collision and several others that have happened there.

In the past five years, seven people have died at the crossroads.

In addition to Goddard addressing the court, three of Arrazola's brothers and a representative of the halfway house where he has stayed since being released on bond, spoke on behalf of the accused man.

But it was Goddard's speech to the court that captured the attention of the prosecutor and victim's advocate. Both approached Goddard after the sentencing saying it was one of the finest they had ever heard a victim deliver.

"I was just prepared, I now have the time for that," he said.

In Gordon's sentencing of Arrazola, he said he would request the Phoenix man serve his sentence in a state correctional facility close to his home.

The judge also recommended that Arrazola be transferred for the final five years of his sentence to a facility near Marana that specializes in treating prisoners with a history of alcohol and drug abuse.

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