The Post and Courier has obtained jailhouse recordings that show Jamie Lee Komoroski, a 25-year-old South Carolina woman accused of felony drunk driving and reckless homicide, struggling to adjust to her new reality behind bars.
On April 28, Komoroski slammed her vehicle into a golf cart carrying newlyweds Aric and Samantha Hutchinson, who had left their wedding reception only minutes earlier. Samantha Hutchinson, 34, did not survive the crash.
In recorded conversations with family and friends, obtained by the Post and Courier
, Komoroski expressed confusion and disbelief over what transpired, as well as fear for her own future. “I can’t believe this is my life … and my whole life is going to be over,” Komoroski said.
While sobbing, she continued lamenting her situation, “Oh my God. I just can’t believe this happened to me. … Why me? … I’m going to be here for years and years and years and years.”
The recordings have garnered national attention
in part because Komoroski evinced what some might regard as disproportionate concern for her own fate.
She speculated on her prospects of being released from prison before trial. “There’s been people that have, like, killed people on purpose before and, like, they’ve gotten out on a bond,” she assured her friends.
She called her behavior “stupid” and referred to the deadly crash as a “freak accident … obviously.”
At one point, her father told her to “stop talking about it” because the recordings could be used against her.
Nowhere in the reported recordings did she mention her victims.
There are two ways to respond to Komoroski’s words, one scolding and the other charitable. Depending on the angle of one’s view, it might even be reasonable to expect people to oscillate between the two.
The scolding response stems from measured-yet-righteous outrage on two fronts. First, by describing the crash as a “freak accident,” Komoroski appears not to understand — or is perhaps unwilling yet to admit — that she allegedly made the choice to drink and drive and that her choice led to the fatal crash.
Second, the ghastly consequences of her choice make self-pity appear inappropriate at best. The cosmic cruelty of Samantha Hutchinson’s death in such a manner, at such a moment, raises questions about the nature of existence that only faith can answer. In light of this, according to the scolding view, the person responsible for Hutchinson’s death should not enjoy the privilege of anguished self-concern.
The charitable response is more complicated, for it raises several issues in which Christians ought to take a deep interest.
First, Komoroski remains in a state of apparent shock and denial. She faces a heavy burden of guilt, one she will carry for the rest of her life. Given time, she might yet accept responsibility for her actions, as others have
Second, there is the uncomfortable fact of public access to a suffering inmate’s worst moments. Whatever the legal rationale for such access, we might view this as another example
of the public intruding on that which is rightfully private.
Finally, there is the infinitely more uncomfortable fact that Komoroski is not a monster. She is one of us. In fact, she could be any one of us, and any one of us, succumbing to the wrong temptations, could be her.
Hers is not a case of hatred slaying innocence, followed by grotesque politicization
, as in the March 27 shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.
Whatever else she might have done, Komoroski did not set out to kill anyone. She wants the world to know that she is “not a bad person.”
Therein lay the Christian interest in Komoroski’s anguish. She pleads for a hearing she cannot receive from human tribunals: Understand me. Absolve me. I am not the person you think.
God will grant her this hearing, for He alone sees the long chain of choices and circumstances that preceded her fatal decision to allegedly drink and drive.
Meanwhile, human tribunals will grope in the dark toward imperfect justice.
For Christians, the challenge lay not in mingling our tears with those of Samantha Hutchinson’s loved ones. We understand that they carry the immense burden of forgiveness.
We also fear that they, like other victims
, might be forgotten.
The challenge for Christians lay in sympathizing with Komoroski, who carries inside her all of the frailties that plague ourselves, and whose current plight, though self-authored, might remind us of the thankful phrase attributed to the sixteenth-century English Protestant John Bradford: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal
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