More than two weeks after being sentenced to 14 years in prison, Stephanie Melgoza, 24, of Farmington, is still a subject of intense discussion on social media.
Since the New York-based outlet Law & Crime Network released East Peoria Police Department body camera footage of Melgoza’s behavior during a field sobriety test minutes after killing two people last April, her case has been publicized in media outlets throughout the United States, as well as publications out of the United Kingdom, Pakistan, and South Korea.
Who is Stephanie Melgoza and what did she do?
At the time of the crash, Melgoza was a senior at Bradley University. According to the East Peoria Police Department, Melgoza struck and killed the couple the evening of April 10, 2022, near the Full Throttle bar. She pleaded guilty to two felony counts of aggravated DUI and two counts of aggravated reckless driving in February. A Breathalyzer test showed her blood alcohol content to be .264, more than three times the legal limit.
What did body camera footage show?
The body cam footage showed a clearly intoxicated Melgoza grinning and giggling during the field sobriety test as well as singing and dancing while on an examination table at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.
She did, however, express deep remorse for her action during last month’s sentencing hearing in the Tazewell County Courthouse.
"I'm so sorry for everything, and I will never, ever commit anything like that again,” a tearful Melgoza said. "I have not drunk since that day. I do not plan on drinking ever again. I want to try to do something positive to make a difference, speak out about this and warn others about the dangers that come with drinking."
How long was she sentenced for?
Melgoza was sentenced to 14 years in prison. She must serve at least 85% of her sentence. Tenth Circuit Court Judge Tim Cusack noted that in determining the sentence, it was important to balance punishment with a person’s potential for rehabilitation.
“I don’t expect this sentence to please anyone, but I believe it is the most just,” Cusack said.
Who were the victims?
Andrea Rosewicz, 43, of Avon, Ohio, was born Dec. 2, 1978. She was killed alongside her partner, Paul Prowant, 55, of Avon Lake, Ohio. An online obituary for Rosewicz described her as “a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan” who “loved photography and had been taking pictures most of her life.”
According to Prowant’s online obituary, “He had the spirit of a wanderer and loved to move around and travel. He was great at meeting new people and was always making new friends.”
What's the fallout from Melgoza's case?
The East Peoria Police Department body cam video went viral after Law & Crime Network released it on YouTube.
It appears to have generated a great deal of viewer outrage, with viewers describing Melgoza’s behavior as “sickening to the core” and “repulsive.” Melgoza’s father, Patrick O’Brian, said in a May 2 social media post that his family has been subjected to online harassment since the video was posted.
“We grieve with Paul and Andrea’s family and are so sorry for what our daughter did to them,” O’Brian wrote. “We can’t be sorry enough. This harassment has to stop, though.”
This article originally appeared on Pekin Daily Times: Police video of Illinois woman Stephanie Melgoza DUI inciting outrage