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Woman sentenced to 50 years in killing of Lafayette pizza delivery driver

Jaelynn Billups apologized to Joshua Ungersma's widow, then spoke about the loss she suffered as well.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Jaelynn Billups was sentenced to 50 years in prison for the killing of a pizza delivery driver. Billups was convicted in October for the killing of Joshua Ungersma, 37, and of murder in the death of her alleged accomplice, 19-year-old Alberto Vanmeter.

She was found guilty on all charges against her, including murder, armed robbery, theft, pointing a firearm and carrying a handgun without a license.

During her sentencing, Billups spoke to Ungersma's widow

"I do recognize the grief in this room. I am sorry for that. I know what it is like to lose somebody. I feel for you. When you're young, you make a lot of mistakes. Some mistakes are bigger than others. I lost someone close to my heart. I lost a child that night because of the stress. I'm sorry you guys have to go through this pain. I apologize for that," Billups said, crying as she spoke to Ungersma's family.

Billups was sentenced to 45 years for each of the killings, with those sentences to be served at the same time. She was given an additional five years for a firearm enhancement.

Jenny Ungersma also spoke to the courtroom via video. She moved out of state with her children after the funeral because of threats to her family.

She said she had an amazing husband working two jobs to provide for their family during the height of the pandemic. 

"I can't describe the depths of grief, agony and pain I'm feeling," Ungersma said.

Credit: Jamie Wilkins
Pizza delivery driver Josh Ungersma and his infant son, Sebastian.

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She called Billups the epitome of evil, who told a plethora of lies during the trial. She went on to call Billups a despicable, vile being and a rotten seed in this world as she pleaded with the judge for the maximum sentence.

Billups faced 121 years in total with her sentencing, but the 50-year sentence given was at the recommendation of the defense.

"They lost a wonderful man. This man was 37 years old. He was law abiding. He was doing everything right," said Pat Harrington, Tippecanoe County Prosecutor. "He was not working not just one full-time job to support his family and newborn child, he was working a part-time job delivering pizzas to support them. And for that, he lost his life."

Billups does plan to appeal. 

Ungersma's family offered no comment leaving the courtroom.

The prosecution argued during the trial that Billups and her boyfriend tried to rob Ungersma in August of 2020, but Ungersma shot Vanmeter in self-defense. They said Billups then shot Ungersma in the back as he yelled for help, his gun already back in his pocket. They pointed to Billups initially claiming the men shot each other as intent to cover her crime.

RELATED: Family of woman charged with murder in killing of Lafayette pizza delivery driver kicked out of court

The defense argued there never was a robbery attempt and that Billups shot Ungersma in a "sudden heat" after seeing her boyfriend killed. The defense said this is a case of perception and misperception and that there was no murder. 

A witness, Patrick Gibson, told 13News and police that he had heard gunshots and went outside. He said he saw Billups with Vanmeter, and Vanmeter had been shot. Ungersma told Gibson that Billups and Vanmeter had tried to rob him and to call police. Gibson said he then saw Billups walk up and shoot Ungersma.

Another witness also said they saw Ungersma ask for someone to call police and then Billups shot him, according to court documents.

Responding officers testified Billups was hovering over one of the victims when they arrived. When she was ordered to show her hands, they say she threw a 9mm handgun onto the sidewalk and was then detained. In body camera video shown in court, you can hear Billups say, "They shot each other."