IN - Shanda Sharer, 12, Madison, 11 January 1992

Snusnake

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Was justice really served??????????????????????


As she leaves the Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis a free woman today, 29-year-old Hope Ann Rippey creates this question:

Can a world that never made sense of her crime now make sense of her release, 11 years earlier than originally projected?

Jacque Vaught says no -- adamantly no.
Vaught is the mother of Shanda Renee Sharer, the 12-year-old Southern Indiana girl who in 1992 was beaten, stabbed and tortured for hours, and finally set afire while still alive along a dirt road outside of Madison, Ind., by a gang of four teenage girls, including Rippey, who was 15 at the time.

Even in that era before the 24-hour cable news obsession with horrific crime, the Sharer killing received considerable national attention.

For Vaught, Rippey's release calls up "a devil" -- the overwhelming anger that she said she has tried to keep at bay for more than 14 years. "I do not accept this," she said yesterday of Rippey's release.

If Rippey is remorseful for pouring gasoline on her daughter, Vaught said, let her show it by completing her original sentence. "To me, it's a very small thing to ask," Vaught said.

"She murdered my daughter."

Yet others would say Rippey's release is sensible.

It is, in fact, the realization of a vision of a long-time volunteer worker at the women's prison, Martha Adams, who was impressed by Rippey and her progress as an inmate.

In about 1999, shortly before her death from cancer, Adams hired a lawyer for the express purpose of getting Rippey's sentence reduced -- a goal accomplished in 2004, when a judge in South Bend, Ind., knocked 15 years off her sentence.

Adams thought Rippey's confinement "was a waste of a personable young woman," said Shirley Christensen, 73, another former prison volunteer and a close friend of Adams who now lives in Kansas City, Mo. "Everybody changes, and she (Rippey) had made a very noticeable change."

Rippey has spent nearly half her life on the 15-acre grounds of the prison, which is about five miles from downtown Indianapolis, living in a dorm setting, earning a college degree -- at public expense, some point out -- and, according to the judge who reduced her sentence, making "significant progress toward reformation and rehabilitation."

Steve Sutton, public information officer for the facility, said yesterday that Rippey is expected to leave the prison today by private transportation, wearing her personal clothing, and will have to report soon to probation officials in Jefferson County, Ind., where neighbors say Rippey's parents still live on the north side of Madison. Probation officers will supervise her for five years.

Rippey pleaded guilty in 1993 to murder, criminal confinement resulting in serious bodily injury and arson, and was sentenced on June 2, 1993, to serve 50 years in prison and 10 more on probation "under a medium level of supervision."

With projected reductions for good behavior, she was expected then to remain behind bars until 2017, the year she would turn 41.

Two of her co-defendants, Melinda D. Loveless and Mary Laurine "Laurie" Tackett, received 60-year sentences; both are still housed at the Women's Prison. The fourth girl, Toni Lawrence, received a 20-year sentence, and was released in 2000 after serving about nine years.

In Indiana, inmates can earn one day of "good time" for each day served, and other credits for educational and other programs completed in prison.

[font=arial, geneva]Jealousy turned deadly[/font]
Shanda's murder had its roots in Loveless' jealousy over Shanda's relationship with a girl who had been Loveless' lesbian lover.

Loveless, Tackett, Rippey and Lawrence picked up Shanda at her father's home in Jeffersonville on the night of Jan. 10, 1992. After tormenting her, they beat, choked and stabbed her, then locked her in the trunk of the car they were driving.

Separating for a while from Rippey and Lawrence, Loveless and Tackett spent most of the night driving around, occasionally stopping to open the trunk and beat Shanda with a tire iron.

After Loveless and Tackett reunited with Rippey and Lawrence, the four decided to burn Shanda -- and did so, with Rippey pouring gasoline on her. Smoke inhalation and burns were found to be the cause of death.

"Toni Lawrence was clearly the least culpable, and Loveless and Tackett were the most culpable," said Guy Townsend, who was Jefferson County's prosecuting attorney at the time. "And Rippey kind of fell in between."

[font=arial, geneva]Something seen in Rippey[/font]
Christensen, the prison volunteer, said that during the 23 years she and Adams worked at the prison, neither ever hired a lawyer to represent an inmate. But Adams, who never married and had no children, saw something in Rippey.

"She's just a very charming young woman, she really is," Christensen said of Rippey, adding that Adams thought "it was time for her to get out and do something meaningful."

Mark Small, an Indianapolis lawyer who specializes in post-conviction work for criminal defendants, confirmed that Adams paid him out of her own pocket.

In 2000, Small filed a motion in state court in South Bend -- where Rippey had been sentenced, following a change of venue from Madison -- arguing that errors had been made during the 1992 hearing in which Rippey's case was moved from juvenile to adult court.

Small said there was no evidence presented, as state law then required, about whether the transfer to adult court would be in the best interest of the accused.

In 2003, the judge in South Bend denied Small's motion, and Small took two new steps -- starting an appeal of that denial, and filing a motion to modify Rippey's sentence.

However, under Indiana statutes, the motion to alter the sentence could not have proceeded without the consent of the prosecutor.

Small and prosecutor Scott Duerring then reached a deal accomplishing just that. In interviews this week, both confirmed that Small agreed to withdraw the appeal over the 1992 hearing, and Duerring agreed to allow the sentence-modification motion to go forward.

Shanda's mother was furious at Duerring -- and remains so today. He "did not do his job," Vaught said -- he failed to consult her and should not have agreed to permit the sentence-modification hearing.

"I was just incensed," she said.

Duerring, in an interview this week, said he agreed to allow the motion to proceed because he believed there may have been "a valid issue" in Small's argument about the 1992 hearing. And had Small prevailed on appeal, the case against Rippey would have gone "back to square one. … The whole thing would start back over again."

Asked if, in fact, he thinks his office failed to present all the evidence it should have in the 1992 hearing, Townsend, the former prosecutor, said, "We were doing our damnedest to cross all the t's and dot all the i's, but that doesn't mean we didn't make mistakes."

On Nov. 3, 2004, St. Joseph (Ind.) Superior Court Judge Jenny Pitts Manier knocked 15 years off of Rippey's sentence -- reducing the time she had to serve from 50 to 35 years.

Indiana Department of Correction officials said Rippey earned about four years of credit for educational and other programs -- completing, among other things, a bachelor's degree in a Ball State University general studies program for inmates, along with other educational and vocational programs.

She also has spoken to youth groups that have come into the prison, and worked for two years training a seeing-eye dog, prison officials said.

Rippey lost some of her credited time in 1994, when she was twice disciplined for disorderly conduct, but prison officials said her record since then has been clean.

Although the judge saw Rippey as remorseful for her crime and likely to be productive in society, Vaught remains unconvinced.

"She poured gasoline on my 12-year-old child and burned her alive, but she is an asset to society and has strong convictions and is ethical? I don't get it," Vaught said. "I just don't get it."

http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060428/NEWS02/604280399/1025
 

michelle

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:furious: oh my I read this book and its one that has stuck with me for YEARS I had horrible nightmares!!! She should never see the night of day IMO.....
 

michelle

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Snusnake said:
Was justice really served??????????????????????
:furious: Heck NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:furious:
 

mindi77

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I read this book also years ago before it seemed like every kid out here was doing these crazy things. I don't think she should be out either. I agree with the girls mom....she poured gas on a 12 year old.....so sad
 

Bobbisangel

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This is just so much bull. When a person is sentenced to serve a certain amount of time they should have to serve every minute of it. They shouldn't get one day off of their sentence for every day served or days off for taking college courses. That just burns me. Our legal system is such a darn mess.

I can't even imagine what kind of teenagers would do such a horrible thing to a 12 year old kid. They should be locked up forever.

Was this case made into a TV movie? It sure is familiar and I know I haven't read the book. If I was the mother of the 12 yr old I don't know what I would do. I would just be so angry at the whole system.
 

lisag

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I read this book as well.... I am angered that two of the murderers have been released. It is completely unfair.. Shada did not have a 2nd chance, Shanda did not have the chance to be a productive member of society - why should they???
 

Sniffy38

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Events such as this should be a rallying cry for the death penalty! :furious:
 

michelle

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Its so unfair that shanda was brutally murdered, she had A LOT more than just gas poured on her too. These girls should have gotten the DP for all I care....
 

cheko1

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My brother was 12 yrs old, gasoline accidently spilled on him. He went to a neighbors homes & a friend of his "deliberately" threw a match on him, he exploded in fire. Running, dropping then rolling trying to put the fire out. It is the most horrid painful death imaginable. It sickens me to hear the court system allows this stuff to happen. Will it never end???? I remember hearing about Shada when it happened. God bless that little girl!
 

michelle

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cheko1 said:
My brother was 12 yrs old, gasoline accidently spilled on him. He went to a neighbors homes & a friend of his "deliberately" threw a match on him, he exploded in fire. Running, dropping then rolling trying to put the fire out. It is the most horrid painful death imaginable. It sickens me to hear the court system allows this stuff to happen. Will it never end???? I remember hearing about Shada when it happened. God bless that little girl!
Oh my gosh thats terrible!!!! What happened to the person who did this?
 

marylandmissing

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The mother should bring some heavy pressure on the judge who reduced the sentence, the politicians who allow this type of sentencing, and anyone involved with releasing her.

The only one who people even remotely agree on getting out is Toni Lawrence. She served 10 years and never participated in the crime. Apparently, if you throw a match on a 12 year old, u just serve 4 more...
 

fran

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This type of thing just makes me sick!
It's like the younger the murder victim is, the less the sentence. It's like a child's life isn't as valuable as an adult!

This is disgusting!

The victim's poor family. What a nightmare!

That poor victim,.....I can't even think about it!

God rest her soul and bless her family.

fran
 

Amraann

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She is charming?????
WTH is that??

I could care less if your a charming murderer or one with the personality of a sloth.

THe time should not be reduced because your charming or pretty or rich.
 

michelle

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Amraann said:
She is charming?????
WTH is that??

I could care less if your a charming murderer or one with the personality of a sloth.

THe time should not be reduced because your charming or pretty or rich.
I know thats total BS. Oh it fires me up how these murderers just walk away. I pray she is tormented in her dreams every night of what she did to shanda!!:furious:
 

Amraann

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I pray some horrible tragedy happens upon her before she ever has the chance to have children or in anyway enjoy society and freedom.
 

Opie

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I have a hard time trying to keep civil thoughts about the "do-gooders" like the one who thought this murderer is "charming." Barf, gag. Doesn't ANYONE care about the victim and her family (besides those of us on WS, that is)?
 

cheko1

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michelle said:
Oh my gosh thats terrible!!!! What happened to the person who did this?
Nothing happened, he said it was a accident!!! Yeah right whatever / he'd called me on the phone & told me the entire story & it WAS NO accident.

Last I heard he was in & out of mental institutions. Good place for him!
 

cheko1

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Amraann said:
I pray some horrible tragedy happens upon her before she ever has the chance to have children or in anyway enjoy society and freedom.
Isn't that the truth!!!
She deserves everything she gets!!!!! :loser:
 

michelle

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cheko1 said:
Nothing happened, he said it was a accident!!! Yeah right whatever / he'd called me on the phone & told me the entire story & it WAS NO accident.

Last I heard he was in & out of mental institutions. Good place for him!
I hope he is in them more than out!!!
 

lisag

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marylandmissing said:
The only one who people even remotely agree on getting out is Toni Lawrence. She served 10 years and never participated in the crime. Apparently, if you throw a match on a 12 year old, u just serve 4 more...

I don't even agree with that.. Toni had SEVERAL opportunites to get help and she didn't. She may not have actively beat Shanda, or lit her on fire, but she also chose not to help her... She watched it all happen.. She is just as guilty IMO and should still be in prison!
 
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