A twenty-four year old Plymouth man could be 89 before being released from incarceration for the murder of 2-year-old Serenity Wilson in September of 2015. Shane Weedling appeared in Superior Court I before Judge Robert Bowen at Wednesday’s sentencing when Bowen sentenced him to the maximum allowed by law of 65 years. Weedling will have to serve at least 75 percent of the sentence, even if he were to earn “good time” while serving his sentence.
Weedling had been scheduled to stand trial on September 27 of this year for the death of the child he had been babysitting for his then girlfriend, Kristi Lavanway. However, on September 13, in a surprise move, Weedling entered into a plea agreement stipulating that he plead guilty to Count I, Murder. Two additional Counts of Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Death and Possession of Marijuana were dismissed.
Weedling was charged after beating the toddler in a hotel room after the child wet her pants. Deputy Marshall County Prosecutor , Tami Napier, read social media messages that Weedling had sent to the Lavanway saying , in part, that he had beat the child and warning that he would beat her again if Lavanway didn’t leave her job and return to the hotel. According to the timeline Napier referred to, the first message was at 9:00 A.M. and Lavanway returned on or about 11: A.M. The child was not taken to the hospital until 2:30 P.M.
Lavanway was sentenced in December, 2015 to 37 years of incarceration for not seeking medical treatment for the child for about three hours.
Napier read from reports on the incident that police investigators found multiple items with blood on them in the hotel room. A hairbrush identified in police reports as used on the child was found wrapped in a bag and put in the trash in a receptacle outside of the hotel room. Napier also read several entries from the reports of the doctor who performed the autopsy saying, in part, that there had been multiple blows to the child’s head, bruising at different stages, and a hemorrhage and detachment of her left eye.
Napier said the Weedling did not go to the hospital with the child, but took drugs and went to sleep.
The State called Serenity’s grandmother, Deb Blacklaw, and father, Cody Wilson, to testify to the loss of the toddler. Blacklaw said, “I miss that little girl. I am broken inside.” She also spoke to the impact that the death has had on a six-year-old sister. Blacklaw said, “She (sister) talks to Serenity in her bedroom and kissed the child’s headstone.”
Cody Wilson said Serenity was a loving, caring little girl who always had a smile on her face.” Wilson asked Judge Bowen for the maximum sentence saying, “ He should spend the rest of his life behind bars.”
Weedling’s father, Eric Weedling, declined to speak in the courtroom, but had written a letter on his son’s behalf to Judge Bowen. Eric Weedling did ask Judge Bowen to allow he and Shane’s mother Julie to hug their son. Judge Bowen indicated that that decision would be left to the security officers.
Weedling ,was escorted in shackles into the courtroom by four Marshall County Sheriff’s Department officers who remained in the courtroom along with two extra security personnel. Following the sentencing, Marshall County Prosecutor, Nelson Chipman said they were required to protect a defendant.
Attorney Tom Black was court appointed to defend Weedling. Black said Weedling had accepted responsibility and had saved the family a trial. Black said Weedling had no motive and no premeditation. He said, “Mr. Weedling acted in anger.”
Judge Bowen indicated that he had read Eric Weedling’s statement and acknowledged that Shane Weeding had plead guilty and saved the family from a trial. However, Judge Bowen went on to refer to Shane’s prior criminal history, his age and his size were factors, that he took no steps to seek treatment, and demonstrated a total lack of concern.
Chipman answered questions for the press after the end of the proceedings. Chipman said, “I have a picture of Serenity hanging on my office door. “ He said Serenity’s legacy will be the awareness by the community concerning child abuse. Chipman said the case had sparked the formation of the Prevent Child Abuse Marshall County Chapter.
In a statement made after the plea agreement was made in September, 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.”
Chipman said he was wearing a purple tie in recognition of Domestic Violence Month.