ROCHESTER, Ind. (WPTA21) – “If this behavior isn’t reckless, God help us all.”
That was part of what the prosecutor told jurors Friday afternoon shortly before they went behind closed doors to decide if a Fulton County woman recklessly hit and killed three children getting on a school bus.
The key question: Was it merely a horrible accident, or did her actions constitute a serious crime?
The case went to the jury around 3:30 p.m., and deliberations are underway.
It was still dark the morning of October 30, 2018, when Shepherd approached what she described as an oversize load in the other lane.
She didn’t slow or stop, but kept plowing ahead in her pickup truck, hitting and killing two twin 6-year-old boys and their 9-year-old sister Alivia Stahl.
Another boy was badly hurt, requiring 21 surgeries.
Shepherd said she saw flashing lights, but didn’t recognize it was a bus until it was too late.
The prosecutor told jurors, that’s why they make buses big and yellow, with lights all over them so you’ll see them and slow down.
The defense lawyer said the state is trying to criminalize what was an accident.
He said the evidence showed her judgment was poor but no greater than the school corporation that puts a bus stop in the middle of a highway that kids had to cross.
We talked to the father of Alivia Stahl, the girl who died after closing arguments.
There was some testimony in the trial, suggesting that Shepherd seemed unemotional and uncaring about the fact she had hit the children.
Some of that was seen in a video recording shown to the jurors when she gave a statement to State Police.
Her husband and a good friend testified Friday she was screaming and hysterical after the incident.
Shepherd herself testified at the scene and afterward that she felt like she was having an out-of-body experience.
The jury got the case at 3:30 p.m.
It’s not clear how long deliberations might go before we get a verdict on five criminal charges, including three counts of Reckless homicide.