Tuesday, September 15, 2020 2:19 PM EST
By KEN KUSMER, AP
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld the felony criminal recklessness conviction of a woman in a crash that killed three siblings who were crossing a rural highway to board a school bus.
However, the court Monday vacated the misdemeanor reckless driving conviction of Alyssa Shepherd because it constituted double jeopardy with the felony charge. It rejected her argument that the state did not present sufficient evidence that she was criminally reckless.
A Fulton County jury convicted Shepherd, 26, of three counts of reckless homicide, as well as criminal recklessness and passing a school bus, causing injury. A judge sentenced Shepherd in December to four years in prison for the Oct. 30, 2018, crash that killed 6-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle, and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, and seriously injured a fourth child.
Shepherd was driving her pickup truck when she plowed into the four children as they crossed two-lane State Road 25 in Rochester. She told authorities that she didn’t realize that she was approaching a stopped school bus, despite the activated stop arm and flashing lights.
Because Shepherd was not drinking, texting or otherwise distracted, Shepherd’s attorney wrote in an appeals brief, her actions were “an error in judgement” not reckless homicide. Shepherd believed the lights she saw were a farming implement or an oversized load, the brief said.
Shepherd's attorney, Stacy Uliana, said she will seek to have the case transferred to the Indiana Supreme Court.
“We respect the (appeals) court's decision but we disagree with it,” Uliana said Tuesday.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill issued a statement saying, "We understand that no court ruling will fully soothe the pain felt by those who loved these precious children, but we hope this decision assists in healing their aching hearts.”