Mugshot_Lavanway,KrystiAlthough Kristi Lavanway , 24, will learn her fate at her sentencing on December 23,  for Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Death, an additional charge of murder has been dismissed

Lavanway’s 2-year old daughter, Serenity Wilson, died on September 19 after allegedly physical punishment at the hands of Lavanway’s boyfriend, Shane Weedling. The child was left in his care on September 18 at the Economy  Inn while Lavanway was working.

According to court records, Lavanway found the child unconscious but still breathing when she returned to the Inn. Allegedly the child was not taken to the hospital immediately for care. The toddler died on September 19 at Lutheran Children’s Hospital in Fort Wayne.

On October 29, Lavanway admitted to the Level I felony offence as charged waiving her right to a trial and sentencing to be determined by Judge Robert Bowen in Superior Court I. Sentencing had been scheduled for December 9, but was continued to December 23.

Judge Bowen informed Lavanway that she would have to serve 75 percent of the sentencing even with “good time”. Sentencing guidelines include a 20 to 40 year sentence with an advisory of 30 years.

Within a few hours of the plea, the Marshall County Prosecutors’ office filed murder charges against both Lavanway and Weedling

Lavanway’s court appointed Attorney, Jeffery Houin, contended that the two charges are the same offences for double jeopardy purposes.  Houin filed a Motion to Dismiss on November 2. On December 2, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Tami Napier, filed a motion to Dismiss amended information count alleging Murder. Count I –Murder was dismissed without prejudice.

“Without prejudice” means that the charge could be refilled at a later date. There is no statute of limitations on murder.

Houin said, “Although we are confident the murder charge would have been dismissed by the court. We are pleased to learn the prosecutor had decided to dismiss the charge voluntarily instead of responding to our motion.” He added, “We are now focused on the sentencing hearing and we believe Judge Bowen will issue a fair sentence based on the evidence we have to present.”

Nelson Chipman, Marshall County prosecutor , said, “After an intense review of the evidence, including the autopsy report and conversations with the pathologist, we decided that justice will be best served in Ms. Lavanway’s case for her to plead guilty and be sentenced on the Level I felony of a dependent resulting in the death of that dependent. That is what the facts clearly support in the case against Ms . Lavanway.” He added, “ We have no evidence that she struck Serenity; rather she grossly neglected and ignored her child when she needed her most. That is not murder, but it is a most serious Level I felony.”.