The Herald Bulletin

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December 3, 2007

9:46 p.m. - Sentence remains in crash that killed former commander

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the 20-year sentence for a woman convicted of killing a former American Legion post commander and seriously injuring her 2-month-old son when she crashed her pickup while high on drugs in 2006.

Melissa A. Stanley-Moss, 29, Lapel, argued that her sentence was inappropriate, and Madison Circuit Court Judge Fredrick Spencer erred in weighing the mitigating and aggravating factors in the case. A three-judge appeals court panel unanimously denied the argument in an opinion released Monday.

“We are not persuaded that Stanley-Moss’ character or the nature of the offense she admitted committing justifies revising her sentence,” Judge Ezra H. Friedlander writes in the opinion.

Stanley-Moss pleaded guilty to several felonies in November 2006 for crashing head-on into a pickup driven by Max Callahan, 69, Anderson, the previous April.

She pleaded guilty to causing death when operating a motor vehicle with a controlled substance in her blood, a Class B felony punishable by six to 20 years in prison. She also pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent, a Class C felony punishable by two to eight years behind bars, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person, a Class A misdemeanor that has a maximum sentence of one year.

The crash happened along County Road 600 West, north of Indiana 32. Stanley-Moss became pinned by the dashboard inside the pickup she was driving. Callahan, a Korean War veteran and former commander of the Lapel American Legion Post, suffered fatal multiple blunt-force injuries, according to court documents filed with the charges.

A motorist traveling behind Stanley-Moss told police he saw her truck swerve across the road several times, even going into yards, before the crash. A blood test revealed she had five drugs in her system, including cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and hydrocodone.

The neglect charge stems from Stanley-Moss’ child being in the truck and unrestrained when the collision occurred. While the infant didn’t appear to be injured in the crash, he began suffering seizures about two weeks later. Hospital tests showed he had blood on his brain, according to court documents.

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