ROCHESTER - Alyssa Shepherd, who hit and killed three children and seriously injured a fourth in a 2018 bus crash in Fulton County, was not granted an early release from prison.
Shepherd was sentenced to four years in prison in 2019 after being convicted on three counts of reckless homicide in connection to the crash that killed 9-year-old Alivia Stahl and the girl's 6-year-old twin half brothers, Xzavier and Mason Ingle.
Shepherd could have been released from prison in December as part of a community transition program. However, Fulton County Superior Judge Greg Heller denied Shepherd's placement into the program on Monday after Fulton County prosecutors and members of the victims' families opposed the development.
Previously: Bus stop crash that killed 3 kids, hurt 1 more results in $3.5M settlement with district
Shepherd did not stop for a waiting school bus on Indiana 25, just north of Rochester at the Meiser mobile home park, in the morning hours of Oct. 30, 2018. The bus driver had the vehicle's stop arm and flashing lights activated as the children were crossing the road. Shepherd has said she saw something in the road, but didn't realize it was a bus until it was too late.
In addition to killing Stahl and the Ingle twins, the crash also severely injured Maverik Lowe, an 11-year-old boy unrelated to the siblings.
Due to Indiana's jail time credit rules, Shepherd's originally scheduled release date was September 2022. Shepherd also completed a Bible study course while in prison, which reduced six months from the sentence.
Had Shepherd been approved for the community transition program, which is available to all inmates convicted of a Level 5 felony, she could have been released as early as December.
In October, Fulton County Prosecutor Michael Marrs filed a motion opposing Shepherd's release into the community transition program, saying he and the victims' families feel the early release does not square with Shepherd's actions.
"We feel like it's an injustice, the sentence itself was too light. It just further wears on the family," Marrs told the Tribune last month. "We feel it's taking an already too light sentence and making it even lighter."
Brittany Ingle, the mother of the children who died in the crash, wrote a letter to the court saying Shepherd should stay behind bars for as long as possible.
"Alivia, Mason and Xzavier, they were my everything, and you have not even served 75 percent of your short sentence given. … You act as if their lives didn't matter," Ingle wrote.
Stacy Uliana, an attorney representing Shepherd, noted that all eligible inmates are automatically entered into the community transition program and that Shepherd did not specifically request an earlier release.
More: Families of kids killed in Rochester bus crash seek restitution, oppose driver's release
"The idea that Alyssa has somehow done something to request less time, she hasn't. All she's done is kept her head down, tried to better herself and has served her time in prison," Uliana said in November.
Uliana also said she has never personally handled a case where the state has objected to a previously-convicted inmate being released in a community transition program.
"I will say in fairness, that the victims do have the right to be notified and the right to object," Uliana told the Tribune earlier this month. "But yes, I've never came across the state rejecting or opposing."
Shepherd is currently being held in the Rockville Correctional Facility.
The family of Maverik Lowe is also waiting for Heller to rule on restitution payments from Shepherd. Lowe's family has requested $36,556 to pay for lost wages and lodging expenses incurred while they were taking care of Maverik.
The majority of the money would go toward a handicap-accessible car, court documents show.
Heller's ruling also comes after newly revealed public records show the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation paid nearly $3.5 million to the families of the victims in settlement payments.
Email Marek Mazurek at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @marek_mazurek
This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Alyssa Shepherd will not get an early release, a judge ruled