MugShot_ShaneWeedlingWith less than two weeks before the murder trial of Shane Weedling was to start, Marshall County prosecutors were surprised when a plea deal was offered by Weedling and his attorney, Tom Black. Superior Court Judge Robert Bowen accepted the plea deal on a lone count of Murder Tuesday following the death of his girlfriend’s two-year old daughter, Serenity Wilson, in September, 2015.   Weedling had been charged with Murder, Aggravated Battery, Deadly Child Neglect and Possession of Marijuana. Reports show that Weedling was babysitting his girlfriend’s daughter in a room in the Economy Inn in Plymouth while she was at work and began beating the child after she wet the bed.

On September 15, Prosecutor Nelson Chipman said, “Mr. Weedling’s decision to plead guilty was unexpected. We have been intensely preparing for the Sept. 27 trial date.” The trial had been anticipated to last two, possible three days. “In exchange for his open plea to the murder charge, the State dismissed the Neglect of a Dependent count and the charge of Possession of Marijuana. No other agreement exists.” Chipman said.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor, Tami Napier was at the court proceedings at the plea agreement hearing. Napier said, “We were surprised when Mr. Weeding plead guilty.”

Prosecutors said they will be seeking the maximum sentencing of 65 years for Weedling at the October 6 sentencing date. The State of Indiana has set the range of sentencing for Murder at 45-65 years, with the advisory sentencing of 55 years.

Chipman said, “Due to the aggravating circumstances in this case, the tender age of the victim, the position of trust Mr. weeding held in relationship to the victim, and the impact on the victim’s family, we will be arguing for the maximum sentence for murder.”

Weeding will have to serve at least 75 percent of the sentencing amount, even with good behavior considerations while in prison.

Chipman said, “This is a horribly tragic case that has had a devastating impact on a family and our community. A bright, cheerful, young life was taken for absolutely no rational reason.”

He went on to say, “Although we will seek the maximum term of imprisonment under the law, the fact remains that no number of years will quench our burning desire to find justice for Serenity. Rather, Serenity’s legacy may only be found in all of our efforts to come together to ensure something like this does not happen again.”

Napier said the child’s father, Cody Wilson, was pleased that Weedling took responsibility for the death.

The child’s mother, Kristi Lavanway, was sentenced in December, 2015 to 35 years of imprisonment after she plead guilty to a charge of Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Death. Although she was not with the child when the beating that led to her death happened, she found the child injured and did not seek medical help for about three hours. Lavanway appealed her sentence, but the appeal was denied.

Carol Anders Correspondent