Covering Kentucky

Jul 7, 2014 5:51 PM

Family Fights Parole Of Man Charged In DUI Crash That Killed 6-Year-Old

Stephanie Wardrip wasn't planning on having to come back to court to testify in front of a parole board again about why her son's killer should serve out his 25-year sentence.

But nearly a decade later, a change in the law has her back in the court room fighting to keep Joseph Shreve behind bars.

House Bill 463 that passed in 2011 gave Joseph Shreve another chance at freedom by making his original parole decision void. When the parole board met last time in 2009, they ruled that because of the seriousness of the crime, Shreve would have to serve out his time - meaning until 2022.

"Due to the seriousness of the crime, a life was taken, drug and alcohol were involved, we are serving you out. The serve out date at this time is March 29, 2022," a board member said.

The Ohio man is accused of being under the influence in 2004 when he hit the car 6-year-old Branson Warner Cummins was in with his grandparents on US 127 in Anderson County. Branson was killed. Shreve was originally charged with murder, but took a plea deal to lesser charges of manslaughter, assault and wanton endangerment.

Branson's mom, Stephanie Wardrip, said at Shreve's last parole hearing in 2009that she had never heard an apology from him. A recent change in the law meant re-opening those wounds for amother to whom telling about the loss of Branson never gets easier.

"We swore 10 years ago, we wouldn't stop fighting; we were gonna do what we could for Branson," Wardrip said.

Monday, she was again, alongside her mom and dad, fighting to keep the man who killed her 6-year-old son locked up as long as they can.

"Am I mad at Joseph Shreve? You're darn right I am. If I could dig a hole and put him under the jail that's where I'd put him," she said.

After Sheve's hearing Tuesday, the board will decide if he should serve out his sentence or be reconsidered for parole at a later date.

Either way, he could be out of jail by the end of the year because when he took his plea deal, manslaughter second degree was not considered a violent offense.

"We sit here and I look at you six, and I don't know you and you don't know me, but I'm begging you to put yourself in the situation we're in," said to board members.

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