VALPARAISO — Paula Biller looked down from the witness stand at 18-year-old Shaun Thompson Thursday morning after describing the pain he had brought to her family by shooting and killing Biller's younger sister on Nov. 19, 2019.
"She did not deserve what you did to her," Biller said.
Thompson would later stand and apologize before being sentenced to 50 years behind bars with the requirement of serving 75% of the term.
"There's not one day I don't think about this whole situation," Thompson said while choking up.
The sentence, which includes five years of probation, was struck as part of an agreement for the Gary youth to plead guilty in March to the charge of murder in the perpetration of a robbery.
After hearing both prosecutors and the defense speak in favor of the proposed agreement rather than risk going to trial and having an appellate court possibly reduce the sentence, Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary DeBoer approved the plea and agreed-to sentence.
"There's no way to make any of this better for you guys," DeBoer said.
The judge said if she could bring the deceased, 27-year-old Adriana Saucedo, back, she would, as supporters of Thompson nodded their heads in agreement.
Thompson pleaded guilty to murdering Saucedo during what has been described as a robbery disguised as a marijuana deal in Portage.
Thompson’s two co-defendants, 19-year-old Jonathan Brown and 17-year-old Roderick Silas, have also pleaded guilty and were prepared to testify against Thompson, if he had chosen to go to trial. They are awaiting sentencing.
Thompson admitted they planned to rob Saucedo of cash. Thompson would only draw a 9 mm Ruger semi-automatic handgun on her to scare her into complying, his plea agreement states.
They drove to and picked up Saucedo at her Portage apartment in a stolen Pontiac Grand Am and talked her into giving them $20 to pay for fuel. They then drove to a parking lot in the 2000 block Crisman Road in Portage where Thompson fatally shot her in the back seat of the stolen car, records state.
The defendants then drove to the shuttered Horace S. Norton Elementary School, 1356 Harrison Blvd. in Gary, where they broke in, carried her body inside the gymnasium and covered it with carpeting they found inside the building. Then they divided up the money and cellphone they had taken from her and headed off to McDonald's and Pizza Hut to spend it on food, according to the plea agreement.
Biller said Thursday that Saucedo, her "baby sister," "didn't have a mean bone in her body" and was very trusting.
"Everything just feels like a bad dream," she told the judge. "Her life was worth so much more than $80."
Thompson's mother, Susan Jones, described her son as likable, helpful and smart, with a work ethic.
"Just a really great kid," she said.
Jones said she grew concerned, however, when her son started hanging out with Brown, who she felt was too old for him.
Thompson told the courtroom Thursday he has learned a lot while behind bars and has grown.
He took responsibility for his actions and said he intends to use his time in prison to become a better person by the time he is released.
DeBoer said Thompson will be required to serve 37 1/2 years and has already spent 547 days behind bars as of Thursday.
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