Triple Fatality Suspect Released


The suspected-drunk driver who killed three members of a Payson family has been released from Maricopa County Jail on a $35,000 bond.

Rigoberto C. Arrazola, 31, was released Jan. 13 after posting the bond. Just days earlier the bond had been reduced from $180,000 by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon.


Rigoberto C. Arrazola

Arrazola had been in jail since the July 24, 2005 accident that occurred at the intersection of Beeline and Bush highways.

Reducing the bond, which in effect allowed Arrazola to be released from jail, drew the wrath of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

In a guest comment that appeared in the Jan. 24 edition of the Payson Roundup, MADD state Executive Director Chuck Heeman wrote, "I am writing today to express our outrage at the continued lack of commitment shown by some Arizona courts in regards to DUI cases."

Heeman also asked why "courts continue to give drunk drivers breaks at every turn despite their publicly stated support of the ‘Expect the Max' program."

David Goddard, the driver of the SUV Arrazola struck, was equally outraged.

"Blood alcohol levels, eyewitnesses and three innocents dead," he said. "How can they (the judicial system) expect people to take them seriously if they do not vigorously pursue what should be an open and shut case."

Gordon's decision to reduce the bond also included the stipulation that Arrazola report to a halfway house should he be released.

Maricopa County Attorney spokesman Bill Fitzgerald said, "We don't have any indication that he has reported to a step-one halfway house.

"It appears he has reported to pretrial services earlier this week."

The Roundup has learned that Arrazola is a Mexican National in this country on a Lawful Permanent Residence permit, or "green card," which lists his occupation as "laborer."

Following the collision -- which killed Goddard's wife Pernilla Goddard, 39; son William Goddard, 13; and stepson Simon Berglund, 14 -- law enforcement officers obtained a search warrant to draw blood from Arrazola. The test revealed the suspect's BAC was .080 percent, or the exact legal minimum to charge a suspect with driving while impaired.

However, in the length of time it took to obtain a search warrant to draw blood -- estimated at more than three hours -- the alcohol concentration could have dropped significantly.

Using the formula that alcohol in the human body dissipates at a rate of .015 per hour, his BAC was possibly .125 at the time of the collision.

Fitzgerald said Arrazola's release conditions "allow him to drink alcohol and drive a vehicle separately, but he can't drink and then drive a vehicle."

Arrazola has pleaded not guilty to three charges of manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault and four counts of endangerment.

He is scheduled to appear at a trial management conference March 29 in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Arrazola's trial, which has been postponed twice, is to begin April 3.

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