Elva Diaz, the drunk driver who killed Rachel made a choice to get behind the wheel of her automobile and drive herself home even though she was fully aware of the likely fatal consequences (that’s why the Riverside D.A.’s office has issued a warrant for her arrest for second degree murder). Finding another way home was too much of an inconvenience. In her judgment, the life and safety of a fellow human being simply wasn’t worth the trouble it would cost to ensure.
The difference between first and second degree murder is intent. Elva Diaz didn’t plan to murder Rachel, even though, for Rachel and for us, the result is the same. As deplorable as her crime is, it wasn’t personal. Until recently. Whether she intended to kill anybody the night she killed Rachel is a matter for the court to decide. But the fact is, the subsequent harm she has inflicted and continues to inflict has been done with sober intent.
I don’t believe in good or bad people. I believe in free will. I believe in good or bad choices. Everyone is capable of anything. It’s simply a matter of choice. We make our choices and, in turn, our choices make us. The character of our choices can become habitual and develop into a life-style. The bargain of free-will is that we are accountable for the choices we make.
As human beings we do our best to make the best of the mess we make of the world because of our bad decisions. Justice isn’t built into the system. If it were, Elva would be dead and not my daughter. Ms. Diaz’ choice to drink and drive would have resulted in the loss of her life, not Rachel’s. What Elva did she cannot undo. Her fatal decision the night of February 21, 2008 determined the course of the rest of her life, a course that still allows her a range of choices, good and bad.
Once we have made a bad decision, committed a crime even, we must ask ourselves: What now? The best choices remaining may not be pleasant or easy, but even then we have the fearful responsibility to choose for good or for evil.
We don’t often get the chance to see what might have been. I found this article on the internet about a drunk driver who fled the scene of a crash that caused injury to another man. He was caught. When he sobered up and came to his senses he saw the error of his ways and, against his legal counsel, pled guilty to the charges brought against him and further pledged himself to make restitution for his crime. This man’s crimes are deplorable and worthy of punishment. But he has chosen the only path open to him to find redemption: admitting his wrong-doing and taking responsibility for his actions. His present choices will not change the past. However, he has chosen to set the course for the best possible future. Instead of choosing to continue to victimize his victim, this man has chosen to do the best he can do now to make amends.
I wish I could say the same for Elva Diaz, the woman who killed Rachel. I’m not interested in hearing about her alleged remorse. Her actions speak for themselves. At every step, Ms. Diaz has chosen her own self-interest without regard for the welfare or benefit of anyone else, including her own family. Rather than accept the consequences of her actions, she has chosen to skip bail and become a fugitive. Rather than dedicate her life attempting to redress the harm she has done, she chooses to continue to inflict pain on those who love Rachel. Rather than allowing us to begin to heal and put the dreadfulness of a criminal trial behind us, she ensures that the wound remains raw and open and delivers another blow on the bruise...