FRIDAY UPDATES: Alyssa Shepherd Found Guilty on All Five Charges

Friday afternoon at the Fulton County Courthouse. (Photo: Nick Deranek/News Now Warsaw)

Stay tuned here for updates from today’s sessions of the Alyssa Shepherd trial.

(7:00 PM) – Alyssa Shepherd was found guilty of felony reckless homicide in the fatal bus stop crash that killed 9-year-old Alivia Stahl and her 6-year-old twin brothers, Mason and Xzavier Ingle in Fulton County.

The jury had a unanimous verdict, finding Shepherd guilty on charges including three counts of reckless homicide, felony passing a school bus with a stop arm extended, and a misdemeanor for criminal recklessness. She faces a maximum sentence of 21.5 years and sentencing is scheduled for December 18th. She will remain free on bail until that day.

Michael Stahl, father of Alivia Stahl, Shane and Brittany Ingle, parents to Mason and Xzavier Ingle, grandfather Michael Schwab, and Prosecutors Mike Marrs and Rachel Arndt all spoke with media following the verdict. You can see and hear those interviews on the News Now Warsaw Facebook page.


(5:00 PM) – Jury deliberations have been going on since 3:30 PM. Closing arguments were given in the session after the lunch recess by both sides.

First was the prosecutor Mike Marrs, who started off with this statement, “The defendant didn’t wake up to kill kids that day. 100 percent this is about reckless behavior and her actions. The law applies to everyone whether you are rich or poor, old or young, a lot of friends or no friends… no sympathy or bias can play a role in the verdict.”

“The jurors are just here to decide guilty or not guilty, sentencing is up to Judge (Gregory) Heller. You have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt (in the verdict).”

Marrs also pointed out that the jurors that the kids being killed proves the recklessness of the actions. He also referred back to Indiana State Police CSI Jason Paige’s reconstruction video and the 15 seconds it took from the curve to point of impact, which showed the 14 seconds of speed to the one second of braking, explaining her speed going from 59 MPH to 41 MPH at point of impact.

Marrs then made reference to the her questions about making it to work, her emotions about her stepdad, but didn’t ask about the crash or anything on the scene. He also pointed out about the school bus ahead sign and her knowledge of something being ahead in the road. He said, “The fact she knew something was in the road, didn’t know what it was and elected not to slow down and maintained her speed, I believe that makes this lean toward recklessness.”

He then spoke about the school district, “Don’t place blame on the schools about it not being the safest stop in the world, she’s at fault, not the school. It wasn’t foreseeable, you can’t blame the school… it’s not reckless, it’s ‘extremely’ reckless (the actions of Shepherd).

Shepherd’s attorney, Michael Tuszynski, then made his remarks. “The state is trying to criminalize an accident. It was a moonless night, very dark, 55 MPH speed limit, she was roughly doing 55, 58, no excessive speeding. She didn’t have any drugs or alcohol in her system. Alyssa never drove at night or that time of the morning, never seen a school bus there, it was unusual for her to be driving at that time of the day.”

“The bus driver couldn’t see the kids in the trailer park, saw the headlights and assumed the vehicle was going to stop then motioned for the kids to the bus. There is no minimal safe distance, they have to use their best judgement.”

The defense also added in that a bus stop in the middle of a highway is “reckless.” Also noted by the defense in their statement was the cause of death versus the manner of death. Cause of death was blunt force trauma, but the manner of death was called accidental.

The prosecution’s rebuttal stated that it was not the bus drivers fault. “There have been 18,000 stops over (50 years) of the stop being there, and only two incidents at this stop, this being the second. It’s not inherently a dangerous stop due to those statistics. Waiting to get closer is unjustifiable harm in terms of Ms. Shepherd not realizing what the vehicle was and to continue driving until she finds out what it is.”

“Just because it was an accident doesn’t mean it wasn’t reckless.”

Marrs toward the end of his rebuttal while pictures of the three kids were on the board said, “If this isn’t reckless, someone tell me what is… 60 MPH to zero in a second is reckless as hell… these photos aren’t intended to pull at your heartstrings, this is real.”


(1:00 PM) — Trial proceedings resumed at 9:30 AM. There was a quick recess at 9:40 AM for ten minutes, but resumed after.

Alyssa Shepherd took to the the witness stand this morning and was able to testify to things that she remembered from the morning of October 30th, 2018.

She reinforced during her testimony that she didn’t see that the vehicle was a bus and after the incident, she remembered being outside of her truck and “saw a man coming with an intimidating face.” She couldn’t remember what the man said to her and she walked back to the truck.

She also said she remembered getting a text after the incident from a friend that asked her to pray for four kids that were just hit by a school bus.

The prosecution asked her questions regarding road rules. When asked about flashing yellow lights, she responded that they meant to “be aware.” When asked about flash red lights, she understood that it means “warning,” but didn’t state anything about stopping. When asked about the route, she said she was unfamiliar with State Road 25 at night.

Co-transportation Director with the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation, Lyle Butt, was asked about the bus stop and stated that there was so state laws regarding the crossing of children on the road, and that it’s up to the discretion of the bus driver. He was also questioned about the lights on the bus and when they had to come on, and he said that under state law, the yellow lights must flash 500 feet before the bus stop and the red lights must come on within 200 feet of the stop.

Butt also said that the bus stop across from the trailer park has been used for 50 years, and the incident last year was only the second one in that span.

When asked about a bus stop within the trailer park, he said school officials discussed moving the stop inside the park, but it was determined within the park would be more hazardous because there are no lights in it.

Butt also mentioned that the former owner of the park did not want school buses within the park because he was afraid the weight of the buses would cause the septic system underneath the property to collapse.

Tippecanoe Valley School Superintendent Blaine Conley was another person who testified today, saying that bus stops are determined by the amount of students in an area, the site of the stop and the safety around the stop. Conley mentioned that one safety concern that alerted him when he personally drove through the trailer park were the amount of cars that would be blocking the roads. He also mentioned that with no lights in the park, the concern there was that people could walk behind the bus while it would be moving about and a driver could accidentally hit someone. School officials have evaluated the stop before, and said the stop on SR 25 across from the trailer park was the best and safest stop possible there.

Brittney Thompson also took the witness stand, who was the friend and 911 operator that Shepherd was said to call after she did not get through on the main 911 line.

Thompson reiterated that Shepherd told her over the phone that she did not know the vehicle was a school bus. She also mentioned that Shepherd was very emotionally unstable and was going in and out of shock. Thompson said that Shepherd told her that she saw the lights, but didn’t know how to negotiate around them.

While on the phone with Shepherd, Thompson learned through calling the 911 center that “two to three” kids had died in the incident, but she said she did not tell Shepherd.

Alyssa Shepherd’s husband, Neil, also spoke this morning, saying that Alyssa called roughly five minutes after he was dropped off at work and she was “very hysterical.” Neil Shepherd said he then went to the crash site, ran over to the truck to see Alyssa who repeatedly told him, “It’s not going to be okay.”

Closing statements are expected to be read after the lunch recess.


Trial proceedings continue today in Rochester for Alyssa Shepherd.

She is facing three felony counts of reckless homicide, a misdemeanor count of passing a school bus with its safety arm extended, and a charge for criminal recklessness. She faces a maximum sentence of 21.5 years if convicted on all charges.