Christina Shackelford-Grammer is led out of
the courtroom after being sentenced Friday.
Neil Smith-Eagle 99.3
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - It was one of the saddest days in the history of Dearborn County said Superior Court I Judge Jon Cleary as he prepared to accept the plea agreement for a woman accused in a deadly hit-skip accident.
Christy Shackelford-Grammer was sentenced to 1,095 days Friday morning. The 32-year-old will do 30 days in the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center starting immediately. She will then report for probation to last 910 days.
Two particularly significant dates were added to Shackelford-Grammer’s jailtime as part of the compromised plea agreement on a charge of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury. She must report back to jail for 24 hours on September 7, the anniversary of the accident which killed Jack Carpenter, and November 2, what would have been Jack’s fifth birthday.
The agreement, which avoided the need for an emotional trial, meant dropping the initial charges against Shackelford-Grammer. She faced up to 16 years combined for Reckless Homicide and Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death, both Class C Felonies.
Christina Shackelford-Grammer told police she thought she had hit a deer after running over three-year-old Jack on North Dearborn Road. The boy was playing in the front yard of his grandmother’s home with his little sister when he wandered out onto the busy road. His mother, Beth, watched in horror what happened.
She did not stop and continued to drive home. Shackelford-Grammer would later realize she may have been the one who hit Carpenter and called police early the next morning. She claimed she was distracted.
There was not a dry eye in the courtroom as friends and relative from both sides voiced their thoughts.
“If there was anything I could have done or would have done, I would have,” Shackelford-Grammer, speaking off the cuff, told the Carpenter family in tears. “I pray going forward that hearts can heal.”
Jack’s father, Allan, with teary eyes read a letter meant to be written by the boy who loved to run and play.
“My name is Jack. I’m going to miss playing with my sisters,” the letter read.
When asked by Judge Cleary, Carpenter said his family was in support of the plea agreement.
“If only we could go back. We think about it every day and so do you,” said Linda Fox, Jack’s grandmother.
Members of the Carpenter family expressed little forgiveness during their testimony in court.
“I think you’re a liar,” said Fox, saying Shackelford-Grammer’s excuse for the accident was insulting.
Jack’s aunt, Erin Fox, said nothing Christy can do or say will bring Jack back and she is taking the easy way out.
“Good people make mistakes, but still must be punished for them,” she said. “You had 11 seconds to do something and you didn’t... …Why would you think he was a deer?”
“You might be able to manipulate your friends and family into thinking you hit a deer, but not us,” Erin Fox said as Shackelford-Grammer’s mother gasped.
One person testified on behalf of the defendant and her family. Jennifer Fehrman’s child was being babysat by Christy and was in the truck when the accident occurred.
“What happened that day changed the lives of the families. It also changed the lives of many in the community,” Fehrman said.
“Everyday she cries and feels guilt about what happened. She is not a monster as many have painted her out to be. She is a Christian woman,” said Fehrman.
Fehrman then asked that the love of God be watching over the Carpenter family as they go forward.
Shackelford-Grammer’s defense attorneys said that Christy wanted to reach out to the Carpenters following the accident, however, the lawyers advised her against doing so because of the possibility that the case could go to trial.
“Any appearance that she lacked remorse is not true at all,” said attorney David Zerbe, adding that to this day Christy has not driven a car. “She is accepting of the consequences of her actions. She’s been overcome by this.”
Fellow defense attorney Del Weldon said following the sentencing hearing that a plea agreement was likely the best ending to the case for both sides.
“Both families get to avoid the trauma of a trial,” he said. “Now people can begin healing.”
After the sentence had been announced by Cleary, Christy was led away in handcuffs.
The gallery quietly filed out into the courthouse lobby, until Shackelford-Grammer’s mother fainted onto the floor. EMTs were called.
While terms of the probation prohibit Shackelford-Grammer from having contact with the Carpenter family, Weldon said the two sides may eventually be able to reconcile.
“Down the road in maybe five or six years, I wouldn’t be surprised.”