FULTON COUNTY, Ind. — A woman convicted of killing three children with her pickup truck at a northern Indiana bus stop will not get out of prison before Christmas. A Fulton County judge made that ruling over the weekend.
The judge found Alyssa Shepherd could not take advantage of the Community Transition Program. He instead ruled she must complete her prison term, minus the credit time she has earned. That means Shepherd will stay in prison until March 2022.
Shepherd was sentenced to 10 years for the deaths of 9-year-old Alivia Stahl and 6-year-old twins Mason and Xzavier Ingle in the crash the morning of Oct. 30, 2018. The judge sentenced Shepherd to serve four years in the Department of Correction, plus three years of home detention and the remaining three years on probation.
Her earliest release date from prison had been Sept. 22, 2022, but it was moved up to March after Shepherd completed a bible study course in prison that would cut time from her sentence.
If Shepherd had been allowed to enter the Community Transition Program, which was recommended by probation officers, it could have taken another 60-90 days off the sentence. That would have potentially put Shepherd home in time for Christmas.
"Absolutely, we feel it's the correct decision," said Michael Schwab, the victims' grandfather. "It was extremely difficult for us to think a person that killed three children could be rewarded. I can't even describe to you the stress our family has been under from this.
"It came at a great time, to be honest with you. Very difficult time after the holidays, right? And again, it weighed heavily on the family, that this person, could possibly be released on maybe my granddaughter's birthday or close to it."
Family members released a statement to 13News on the judge's ruling to keep Shepherd behind bars, saying that their family was grateful for the judge's decision.
It holds Shepherd accountable for the deaths of our children and the enormous pain she has caused our family and community. We feel she has received far more breaks since this tragedy began than she deserves including a very light sentence considering she was facing 20 years and will only serve a bit more than 2 years for killing 3 children and permanently injuring another child. To this day Shepherd has not taken responsibility for her actions, has never even apologized for killing our children and has never shown remorse for her actions. She received a 6 month reduction in her sentence for simply completing a Bible Study class which we feel was absurd.
Brittany Ingle, the mother of the three children killed in the crash, said Shepherd did not deserve the opportunity.
“You wanting a shorter sentence, you act as if their lives didn’t matter. You are saying to us, our family, the community, the nation that their lives didn’t matter,” Ingle said.
"She has never made an attempt to contact the family," said Schwab. "There's never been an apology from her or through any of her family."
Shepherd has claimed in the past that she didn't realize she was approaching a stopped school bus, despite the activated stop arm and flashing lights.
"There were two things that came out of the judge's ruling, as far as we're concerned, of importance. One, it's holding her somewhat accountable, even for getting a light sentence, it's holding her accountable and telling her, 'No, you will serve out the rest of that reduced sentence,'" Schwab said. "But most importantly to us, something we were afraid got lost in it all, is that by that ruling, the judge was letting the world know that these children's lives mattered. I think that was probably the most important for all of us."