Baby Dies From Blunt Force Trauma; Woman Only Serves 77 Days For Felony Neglect

By Maureen Mespell
By Katrina Helmer
By John W. Davis

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September 16, 2011 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 11:00 AM EST

LAGRANGE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- Protesting for justice.

A growing number of community members in Lagrange are outraged that a woman who pleaded guilty to felony neglect of a 15-month old girl was released from prison after serving 77 days.

Those who knew her said 15-month old Alissa Guernsey was a normal baby. A cute little blond girl who was always happy and hardly ever crying.

"She died a painful death. Blunt force trauma to the head that's a lot of painful blows. It's not fair for a 15 month old baby to go out like that," said Alissa's Uncle Tyler Sprunger, who lives in Shipshewana.

For the past few weeks, Sprunger has been protesting at the Lagrange County Courthouse.

According to court documents, little Alissa died while in her cousin's Christy Shaffer's care on March 28, 2009.

"The defendant in this case was never tried for murder was basically given a slap on the wrist," Sprunger said.

Indiana's NewsCenter has learned that Shaffer took a plea deal in February 2011.

In doing so, she admitted she was guilty of felony neglect of a dependent.

On May 25th, Shaffer was sentenced to 10 years.

6 of those years were suspended.

With good behavior, Shaffer would have served 2 years.

However, on August 11, 2011, Shaffer was released from prison after serving 77 days.

"This woman should not be home with her kids," said Angola Resident Bobbie Tuttle.

Tuttle said she found out about Friday's protest through a facebook page created by Tyler Sprunger called "77 Days For Murder."

"She should be paying for her crime that she committed. There are drug offenders in this town getting way more than what this woman got for murder," continued Tuttle, who said she had never met little Alissa or Sprunger before two weeks ago.

"I have two kids and if anything like this had happened to one of my kids, I would want everybody to come together to help me too," said Howe Resident Kimberly Shephard.

"I am here because I think the decision for her early release is unjust. There was not justice for this little baby," shared Howe Resident Denylle Lumbard.

Indiana's NewsCenter received an anonymous copy Christy Shaffer's signed court affidavit which was dated April 11, 2011.

"Although I acknowledge the opinion of an expert witness who determined that Alissa Guernsey died as the result of blunt-force trauma, I disagree with expert's opinion," stated Shaffer under oath.

"Even though I am not personally responsible for nor did I participate in causing any injuries to Alissa Guernsey, I realize that I am legally responsible for providing timely medical treatment while she was in my care and custody," continued Shaffer under oath.

"77 days is not justice," Sprunger said.

"Two years that she would have had to serve, that she would have had in the first place wasn't even justice. Alissa can never be brought back but people deserve to know that a murder happened and until people know that, I will not stop," Sprunger explained.

Alissa's uncle, friends and complete strangers said they will protest every Friday at 4:30 p.m. at the Lagrange County Courthouse until they have Justice for Alissa.




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