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An Indiana woman who struck and killed three siblings as they were trying to board their school bus last year has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Alyssa Shepherd, 25, called the sentencing the “hardest day of my life” as emotions ran high in the courtroom Wednesday, local station WSBT reports.
Shepherd struck and killed 9-year-old Alivia Stahl and her 6-year-old twin half-brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle in the early morning hours of Oct. 30, 2018 as the siblings were crossing the road to board their school bus. A fourth child, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe was also injured, but survived.
Shepherd, a mother of two herself, plowed into the children despite the fact that the bus' lights were flashing and the stop arm was activated, according to The South Bend Tribune.
She was convicted in October of three counts of reckless homicide, one count of criminal recklessness resulting in serious bodily injury and one count of passing a school bus causing injury.
After her prison sentence is complete, Shepherd will have to complete three years of house arrest and another three years of probation.
Her driver’s license was suspended for 10 years.
The victims’ family had argued for Shepherd to receive the maximum sentence of 21-and-a-half years behind bars for taking away the siblings' lives.
“Everyone here has been talking about Christianity and praying, but you didn’t pray for my kids right there at the scene,” the children's mother Brittany Ingle said in court, according to Ink Free News of Kosciusko County. “It sounds like you’re a great mom, and that’s great. You get to see your kids. You still get to talk to them. My life? My life is f---ing ruined. I forever have to go to a f---ing gravestone.”
Ingle went on to say that although she doesn’t hate Shepherd, she did hate what she did.
Ingle herself would end up behind bars after lunging at Shepherd during the proceedings. She allegedly struck Shepherd “either with her hand or elbow in the face or head area,” Fulton County Prosecutor Michael Marrs told The South Bend Tribune.
She was led away in handcuffs and is facing a misdemeanor battery charge.
Alivia’s father, Michael Stahl, also delivered a victim impact statement, calling his slain daughter his “rock.”
“She cared about people that she didn’t even know,” he said, according to Ink Free News. “My dad has been incarcerated for my entire life. So I understand this. And you know, I feel horrible for your children and your parents. But for you? I don’t feel much of anything. If someone commits murder, we strongly hold them accountable. My daughter was 9.”
Shane Ingle, the father of the twins killed, said his boys had made him want to be a better person.
“If I want to feel close to my kids, I have to go to a cemetery,” he said.
Shepherd’s defense attorney had argued that the 25-year-old should receive a suspended sentence that would have avoided any time behind bars.
Shepherd’s husband, Neil Shepherd, told the judge that having his wife in prison would be a hardship for the family.
He described his wife as a hard worker, who always put others first.
“I really wish I could trade places with her,” he said of his wife. “I see her break daily and try to comfort her every single night.”
Shepherd also tearfully addressed the court herself, apologizing for her actions that fatal day.
“This day will forever affect me,” she said, according to Ink Free News. “My heart breaks for the lives that were lost. Every day, my heart breaks for the families. I am sorry. No apology can take that pain away.”
After the sentencing, Shepherd was transported to the Fulton County Jail.
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