Nearly two years after 20-year-old Lisa Spinks was stabbed to death and her body left on railroad tracks to be run over, her family got their first taste of justice Tuesday with the sentencing of Joshua J. Sellers to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
What they didn’t get from Sellers’ brief comments to the court was an explanation to the biggest unanswered question in the case — why?
“It won’t bring her back,” said Spinks’ maternal aunt Teresa Kilpatrick, but she said it would be nice to know.
Sellers, 28, and Spinks’ ex-boyfriend Jamie Shaffer, 23, both pleaded guilty to killing Spinks in plea deals to avoid the death penalty.
A three-judge panel consisting of Judges Timothy O’Connell, Dennis Langer and Mary Wiseman accepted Sellers’ plea on Aug. 2 and sentenced him to life in prison for the charge of aggravated murder. In addition, he was sentenced to a total of 18 years in prison to run consecutively to the life term for charges of tampering with evidence, kidnapping, gross abuse of a corpse and possession of criminal tools.
Shaffer pleaded guilty to the same charges in May and has agreed to the same sentence. There is no date for his sentencing.
The pair admitted that on Sept. 24, 2011 they lured Spinks, who was mentally challenged but had graduated a year earlier from the vocational school at Miamisburg High School, to an isolated location and stabbed her in the neck. The pair then dragged her body onto the railroad tracks near Ohio 725 and covered it with brush before it was severed by trains.
“There is no reason whatsoever for this to have ever happened. This is totally senseless,” said Assistant Montgomery County prosecutor David Franceschelli. “This is the most barbaric aggravated murder case I’ve prosecuted in 30 plus years.” He said there is no explanation or excuse for Sellers’ and Shaffer’s behavior. “They are just not good people. They are evil.”
Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. denounced the grisly crime in a statement Tuesday. “This is one of the most malicious and unsettling cases we have seen in a long time. This defendant callously took the life of Ms. Spinks, and now he will be spending the rest of his life behind bars,” he said.
Franceschelli said the intervening two years has been a long, difficult ordeal for Spinks’ family. She was the eldest of six grandchildren being raised by Linda and Bill Nicholas, who spoke to the court along with Kilpatrick before the judges read Sellers’ sentence.
“You showed no mercy to Lisa and yet her family members have decided to show you mercy and not press for the death penalty,” Bill Nicholas said.
Kilpatrick said the family agreed the decision was one that Lisa would have made.
“She probably wouldn’t want them put to death,” Kilpatrick said. “She was just that forgiving.”
Sellers, a father of two, spoke to the court expressing remorse for his actions. He said he hopes Spinks’ family can one day find it in their hearts to forgive him.
“I’m very sorry that I wasn’t able to save her that night,” he said.
Sellers’ original attorneys on the case alleged in October of 2011 that Shaffer had killed Spinks and Sellers had merely been present. Shaffer alleged that Sellers beat Spinks with a rock.
Police said the two men joked about the killing and then brought a knife and latex gloves with them.
“He did not want to save her life,” Kilpatrick said, noting that she found Sellers’ statement offensive. “He plotted to take her life.”
By Katie Wedell - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)
©2013 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
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