Every monster has defenders, whatever his (or her) crime
Every once in a while a story comes along that truly horrifies.
A young gay man is crucified on a Wyoming fence. A mother methodically drowns her five young children. A woman runs down a pedestrian, drives home with him trapped in her shattered windshield and leaves him in her garage to die.
In each case, the perpetrators of these outrages have their defenders. There are those who excused, defended or even glorified homophobia in the Matthew Shepard case. Those who excused infanticide in the name of postpartum depression in the Andrea Yates case. And now a lawyer who comes to the defense -- not just legally speaking -- of Chante J. Mallard.
Mallard, 25, is the Fort Worth, Texas, woman who struck with her car and then killed through callousness and self-interest a homeless man named Gregory Biggs.
Before a judge issued a gag order in the case, Mallard's lawyer complained that she was being demonized by the prosecution. "She is not [a] monster ... she was simply a frightened, emotionally distraught young woman who had an accident, panicked and made a wrong choice."
That's putting about as happy a face on this case as anyone could possibly do.
About the only thing in dispute is the amount of time that Biggs spent dying while trapped in the windshield. Initial reports attributed to police said it was two or three days before Biggs died. Mallard's lawyer said Biggs died within about three hours and the body was removed from the garage in a day.
Ignored cries for help: It is uncontroverted that Mallard struck Biggs on the way home from a party where she had been drinking. She finished the drive home with Biggs trapped in her windshield and then concealed the car in her garage. She went into the house and had sex with her boyfriend before returning to the car to find that Biggs was still alive. She apologized to him for hitting him, but ignored his pleas for help. After Biggs died, she and unnamed accomplices dumped Biggs body in a park. She removed the windshield and burned the front seat of her car to conceal evidence. She planned to destroy the car and buy a replacement when she got her income tax refund.
Do those sound like the actions of a confused or panicked person or the actions of a person with no remorse for her evil deed?
At the moment she struck Biggs, it was an accident, perhaps even an accident to which he contributed. When she left the scene of the crime, she became a criminal. When she allowed Biggs to die in the darkness of her garage, she became a murderer.
If anyone thinks "murder" is too strong a word, consider the coroner's report. Biggs suffered injuries that would have caused severe pain and bleeding, but there was no sign of the kind of internal injuries that would have been likely to cause death had he gotten treatment.
Mallard faces five years to life imprisonment on the murder charges. We can only hope that Texas law also allows for additional charges of leaving the scene of an accident, destruction of material evidence and abuse of a corpse, at the least. The indifference she exhibited toward a man who was bleeding to death before her eyes makes her unfit to be a member of a free society.