Public Shaming Bothers Woman
Nov. 30, 1999
WILKESBORO, N.C. (AP) _ Rebecca Escobar says she has grown bitter since a judge handed her an unusual punishment: Walk around wearing a sign that reads ``I am a convicted drunk driver and as a result I took a life.''
Asked whether she thinks her punishment fits her crime, Escobar answers sharply: ``No, I don't.'' Carrying the sign, she said, doesn't diminish her guilt.
Escobar was driving drunk Jan. 27 when her car collided with another vehicle, killing 52-year-old Faye Schnablegger. She pleaded guilty to felony death by vehicle.
Judge Todd Burke said he wanted to send a message when he ordered Escobar to tote the sign once a month for the first year of her three-year probation.
Escobar was a first-time offender, so Burke said he could sentence her to a maximum of only about a year in jail. He thought that was insufficient.
The judge also ordered Escobar to spend 90 days in jail, relinquish her driver's license indefinitely and maintain the crash site where there are eulogies, a poem and a photo of Schnablegger.
``I thought that a year in jail was a very minimal sentence to have taken someone's life. But I felt that a public sanction would have more impact on her and serve notice on the general public,'' Burke said.
Escobar agreed to the sentence in June. She has held the sign three times so far. She doesn't speak to anyone when she arrives a few minutes after leaving her job at a Tyson Foods plant.
Schnablegger's son, William Shepherd, praised the sentence.
``She can learn from what she's done,'' he said.
Such unconventional sentences are becoming more common. Last month, a judge in Wilmington gave a shoplifter the option of going to jail or carrying a sign outside J.C. Penney Co. announcing her transgression. She settled on the latter.