Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Death of Innocence - The Murder of Young Shanda Sharer


Laurie Tackett's sentencing hearing began on December 28, 1992, and was almost identical to that of Melinda Loveless's. Townsend more or less recounted the same events and the witnesses varied little. In addition, Loveless and Lawrence both testified as part of their plea agreement.

On the morning of January 4, 1993, Melinda Loveless stood before Judge Todd awaiting her sentence. He began by citing all the factors involved in the case, including the "gruesome nature" of the crime and the victim's age. After a brief pause, Judge Todd sentenced Loveless to 60 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed under the plea agreement.

"You still have time to turn your life around and do something good and useful with your life after prison," Todd said as Loveless began weeping uncontrollably. "Shanda Sharer does not. I hope you take advantage of this opportunity."

Melinda sobbed uncontrollably as she was led away and Laurie Tackett was brought in. The judge again cited the factors involved in the case and passed down an identical sentence. Tackett, stone-faced, did not flinch during the proceeding.

Just two days after the sentencing of Loveless and Tackett, Sharer's parents filed a $1 billion dollar lawsuit against all four girls. The suit was filed after a Louisville television station reported that Tackett was negotiating to sell her story to a movie production company, and that Loveless was also considering various offers she had received. Sharer's parents never expected to collect any of the money and wanted to discourage the girls from profiting at their daughter's expense. That same day, Jackie Vaught gave a brief interview to The Courier Journal.

"It's appalling to think that they could profit from killing Shanda, but I can't say I was shocked to hear about their plans. I know the horrible things these girls are capable of," she said.

Clark County Circuit Judge Daniel Donahue agreed with Jackie and quickly issued a temporary injunction blocking the girls from making any deals to sell their story.

Despite Judge Donahue's injunction, Indiana law mandates that any money a felon receives for publication or broadcast rights be deposited in a violent crime victim's fund; hence it was, and remains, highly unlikely that the girls would ever be able to profit from their crime.

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