Jury trial continues for Alyssa Shepherd, driver accused in Fulton Co. bus stop tragedy
FULTON COUNTY, Ind. --- The trial for Alyssa Shepherd continued on Thursday, but with one less juror.
Testimony was set to begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning, but it was pushed back to 10:00 a.m. Following deliberation behind closed doors, court officially started at 11:30 a.m.
The judge told the court the juror was dismissed after there was written communication following the trial. The court called each individual juror into the closed courtroom doors to interview each one. The court did determine that there was no malice in the written communication.
Both the court and the juror did ask to be dismissed from the case. Six women and seven men, including one alternate juror, remained for witness testimonies.
Alyssa Shepherd, 24, is accused of killing three siblings and injuring another child as they crossed the street to get on the school bus in Fulton County in October of 2018.
Shepherd has been charged with three counts of reckless homicide for the deaths of Xzavier Ingle, 6, Mason Ingle, 6, and Alivia Stahl, 9 and one count of criminal recklessness resulting in bodily injury for the injuries Maverik Lowe, 11, sustained.
She is also facing a misdemeanor count of driving around a school bus with a stop arm extended.
The state called a total of seven witnesses to the stand on Thursday.
Dr. Darin Wolfe, Pathologist, testified before the court about the autopsies of the three children who died after being struck by Shepherd’s vehicle last October.
During Dr. Wolfe’s testimony, Shepherd whispered to her lawyers, the counsel approached the bench and the judge declared an unexpected recess.
ABC 57 later learned that it was due to low blood sugar levels.
Jason “Ace” Hudkins, Shepherd’s brother, took the stand after Dr. Wolfe and recalled the day of the crash. Ace told the jury that he remembered seeing something up ahead with lights.
Prosecution asked Ace if he remembered a recorded conversation with a South Bend investigator during which Shepherd asked him, “Do you know what that is?” to which he replied, “I don’t know.” That is when Ace told the investigator Shepherd said she was just going to try to go around the object.
Ace told the jury that he did not realize it was a school bus until after he got out of the car following the crash.
Larry Jolley, Sergeant with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, told the court Shepherd was upset after the crash and that she thought the school bus she hit was a farm tractor.
Jolley noted that Shepherd asked how long it was going to take because she was late to work. Jolley told the court that Shepherd was cooperative with the investigation.
The court then watched Alyssa Shepherd’s own videotaped statement given at the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department.
Detective Michelle Jumper was called to testify after interviewing Shepherd for that statement.
Shepherd told Detective Jumper that she recalled seeing a vehicle, but did not know what it was.
In the recording, Shepherd could be heard saying, “I feel like I tried stopping, but it was so too late.” She then said, “I believe I tried stopping.”
Shepherd told Detective Jumper on that day that she had not been on her phone and there were no distractions, but said if she had been, then that would have made the situation so much worse.
Detective Jumper told the jury that Shepherd did not ask about the scene or the children during the interview.
Sr. Trooper Harold, school bus inspector for Kosciusko County, was called to the stand next. Harold inspected the bus and did find a few different violations, but said there were no malfunctions related to the bus lights.
Terry Gose, State Trooper certified in crash programs, reviewed files for this case beginning back in February of 2019.
Data pulled from the computer of Shepherd’s truck, which showed the following:
The number of seconds indicates how long before the crash, how fast the vehicle was traveling and at the rate of applied acceleration.
4.3 SECONDS--59 MPH
3.8 SECONDS--58 MPH (16%)
3.3 SECONDS--58 MPH (17%)
2.8 SECONDS--58 MPH (4%)
2.3 SECONDS--57 MPH (5.5%)
1.8 SECONDS--57 MPH (6.5%)
1.3 SECONDS--57 MPH (5%)
.8 SECONDS--55 MPH (0%)
.3 SECONDS--48 MPH (0%)
The children were hit on impact at 41 mph.
Sergeant Scott Gilbert, Indiana State Police, measured Alivia’s final resting point as 85 ft. from impact, while the twins laid to rest at 45 ft. from impact.
The trial will continue Friday morning and is expected to conclude by the end of the day.