Leonard and Penelope Grosswiler plead guilty in deadly hit and run in Elkhart

NOW: Leonard and Penelope Grosswiler plead guilty in deadly hit and run in Elkhart

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -- 14 months. That's how long it took for one Elkhart family to get answers, after three of their own were killed in a hit and run crash in 2017.

A significant detail was also revealed in a hearing Thursday morning concerning the hit and run on Beardsley Avenue on August 26, 2017 that killed 22-year-old Shawn Wolcott, 11-year-old Courtney Smith, and 8-month-old Dolly Smith. The crash also injured Dolly's father, and Shawn and Courtney's brother, Bradley Smith and his girlfriend Allison Mikel. L

Leonard Grosswiler revealed he was the driver of the vehicle, not his wife.

"Relief. Extremely relieved. We just want someone to take responsibility for everything," says Sunny Combs and Bill Smith, the parents of the the victims. "That's all we wanted all along, that's the hardest part of moving on. Not knowing and not having anyone take responsibility."

Relying on Leonard Grosswiler's sworn testimony that he was the driver, the prosecutor's office amended the charges against him and allowed him to plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, serious bodily injury and bodily injury, and obstruction of justice.

For the Smiths, hearing the details reopened the wounds.

"To hear some of those things...it's nauseating. To know that you knew the day after what happened, and then still try to change things," explains Combs and Smith. "It's a lot of anger. After a year the anger is gone, but the hurt...the hurt and stuff is still there."

After Leonard revealed he was the driver, his wife's charges were also amended because she had originally been charged as the driver after two eyewitnesses said the driver was female.

Both admitted to replacing the broken windshield of their Cadillac, cleaning out the inside, removing any papers with their names and concealing the vehicle.

"They vacuumed the car. They took evidence out of the car and they tried to clean up the scratches," lists Smith.

Leonard's plea of guilty included an agreement to a stipulated sentence of 15 years with 4 suspended with probation.

Penelope's charges were amended to one count of obstruction of justice, for her role in assisting in the clean up.

Penelope also entered a plea of guilty for attempting to destroy evidence in the crime.

They were released on bond until sentencing.

ABC57 News tried to approach the Grosswilers after they pleaded guilty, but lawyers responded with "no comment."

They will both be sentenced on December 12 at 1:30 p.m, just four days before Dolly would have turned two years old.

The Smith family says, they've waited this long for justice, they can wait a little longer.

"We hurt so bad, but this is what we needed," says Smith. "We needed the closure for this part. We needed someone to take responsibility." 

Share this article: