Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

April 12, 2014

Topeka woman lands back in jail after admitted drug use

(Continued)

VanDerbeck later recused himself from the controversial case. Visiting DeKalb County Judge Kevin Wallace heard Shaffer admit the probation violation last month, and issued the sentence Friday.

A child’s death

Goshen attorney Phil Miller represented Shaffer in court Friday. He likened Alissa Guernsey’s death to a bell that sounded five years ago — and the echoes are still being heard.

“They provoke feelings of revenge, or feelings of sympathy or mercy,” Miller said. “... Those sounds are everywhere. Those feelings are everywhere.”

Miller said there’s no question that Shaffer’s world caved in “after this tragic bell rang.” Her problems included suffering from depression and anxiety.

LeAnn Anders, chief probation officer for LaGrange Circuit Court, recounted a conversation with Shaffer about the probation violation.

“She stated she was mad at the world so she chose to use drugs,” Anders said. She recommended that probation be revoked and that Shaffer serve out her sentence in the Department of Correction.

Miller suggested a one-year term of incarceration for Shaffer, followed by time spent in a treatment program and then a term of probation.

“She needs to work on herself,” Miller said.

Responding to a question from Judge Wallace, Shaffer indicated she would benefit from a rehabilitation program as opposed to incarceration.

“I think I would get more of the help I would need,” the mother of three said before the sentence was handed down.

An email from Alissa Guernsey’s mother was submitted into evidence Friday. Prosecutor Jeff Wible said the theme of the email was that Shaffer should not be given any leniency.

Wible said hundreds of people worldwide have expressed an opinion about the case — they want revenge. The prosecutor stressed that revenge is not the goal of the state. Wible also asked for the six-year maximum term, minus time served.

“(Shaffer) was given a tremendous opportunity...and she did in fact squander it by violating the law,” he said.

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.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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