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Killer of lesbian
teen released from prison

Killer of lesbian
teen released from prison

A mother's anger over the 1992 slaying of her 12-year-old daughter, who was beaten and burned alive by four teenagers over her alleged involvement in a lesbian love triangle, has resurfaced with the release from prison of one of those convicted. Hope Rippey, who was 15 when she and three other girls killed Shanda Renee Sharer, walked out of the Indiana Women's Prison Friday after serving about 13 years of her original 50-year sentence.

Sharer's mother, Jacque Vaught, told The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., Thursday that she adamantly opposes the 29-year-old's release. "I do not accept this," she said. "She murdered my daughter."

She said that if Rippey had any remorse for helping to kill the New Albany, Ind., girl, she should show it by remaining behind bars her entire sentence. "To me, it's a very small thing to ask," Vaught said.

Rippey and three other teenagers abducted Sharer after luring her from her home following a punk rock concert in Louisville. According to court testimony, Melinda Loveless, then 16, was jealous of Sharer and wanted her killed because she was involved in a lesbian love triangle with Loveless and another girl.

Before dawn on January 11, 1992, they bludgeoned and sodomized the girl with a tire iron and sliced her legs with a knife, then drove around with the girl locked in the car's trunk. Hours later, they doused the girl with gasoline and burned her alive along a Jefferson County, Ind., road, about 40 miles northeast of Louisville.

Rippey, Laurie Tackett, of Madison, Ind., and Loveless, of New Albany, pleaded guilty to murder and two lesser charges. Toni Lawrence, who was 15 at the time, completed almost nine years of her 20-year sentence for a criminal confinement conviction and was released in 2000.

Rippey was to spend half her sentence in prison under the Indiana Department of Corrections' "good time" provision, which awards one day of credit for each day served without incident. A northern Indiana judge reduced the original sentence to 35 years, making the actual time in prison 17 1/2 years.

The judge reduced it by four more years after Rippey obtained her high school GED and then a bachelor's degree from Ball State University. Rippey lost some of her credited time in 1994, when she was twice disciplined for disorderly conduct, but prison officials said her record since then has been clean.

Her progress impressed Martha Adams, a longtime prison volunteer. In 1999, shortly before her death from cancer, Adams hired a lawyer to try to get Rippey's sentence reduced.

Adams thought Rippey's confinement "was a waste of a personable young woman," said Shirley Christensen, 73, another former prison volunteer and a close friend of Adams's. "Everybody changes, and [Rippey] had made a very noticeable change."

Vaught remains unconvinced. "She poured gasoline on my 12-year-old child and burned her alive, but she is an asset to society and has strong convictions and is ethical? I don't get it," Vaught said. "I just don't get it."

Steve Sutton, spokesman for the women's prison, said Rippey will have to report to probation officials in Jefferson County, where neighbors say Rippey's parents still live. She will spend five years on probation. Tackett, who was 17 at the time of the killing, and Loveless will likely be in their 40s before they are released. (AP)

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