Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 26, 2014

Woman admits to using meth

By SCOTT WEISSER
scott.weisser@goshennews.com

---- — A Topeka woman who’d earlier been sentenced in connection with a toddler’s death has admitted to a probation violation.

In LaGrange Circuit Court last week, Christy Shaffer said she’d violated the terms of her probation by using or possessing methamphetamine. Shaffer tested positive for meth on a drug screen in November of last year.

Shaffer had been on probation on a Class B felony charge of neglect of a dependent. Her attorney, Phil Miller of Goshen, said Shaffer’s plea agreement with prosecutors caps her sentence on the probation violation at six years.

Shaffer is due to be sentenced on the violation in LaGrange Circuit Court April 11.

The neglect charge against Shaffer arose from the death of 16-month-old Alissa Guernsey. Guernsey, born Nov. 2, 2007, was the daughter of Shaffer’s cousin, Kelli Sprunger. The child became a ward of the state and was placed into foster care with Shaffer.

Guernsey died March 28, 2009, while in Shaffer’s care. Court documents indicate the child had suffered blunt-force trauma. In June 2009, a grand jury indicted Shaffer on two counts of neglect of a dependent, one a Class B felony charge and the other a Class C felony.

Shaffer pleaded guilty to the Class B felony neglect charge in February 2011. On May 25 of that year, LaGrange Circuit Court Judge J. Scott VanDerbeck imposed a 10-year sentence — four years in the Indiana Department of Correction and six years suspended. Shaffer was to serve three years on probation and one year on home monitoring after her release from prison.

Part of VanDerbeck’s sentencing order stated Shaffer could petition the court for early release after going through the DOC’s Reception Diagnostic Center. Shaffer did this.

On Aug. 11, 2011, VanDerbeck modified Shaffer’s sentence, ordering her to complete six months on the court’s home monitoring program followed by three years on probation.

In his order, VanDerbeck found that at the time of the offense, Shaffer had opened her home “and was being a Good Samaritan to a family member in a time of need when a tragic event occurred. There is nothing that can be done to bring back the life of the dependent child victim and there is little added value in penalizing Christy Shaffer or her family further by continuing the period of incarceration.”

VanDerbeck later recused himself from the case. DeKalb County Judge Kevin Wallace is the judge for the current Shaffer criminal proceedings.

Shaffer also faces Class D felony charges of possession of methamphetamine and maintaining a common nuisance. A court hearing on those charges is set for May 16.