ROCHESTER – Jurors returned Friday at 1:39 p.m. in Fulton County Superior Court for closing arguments in the trial of Alyssa Shepherd.

Judge Greg Heller reviewed juror instructions before the jury was called in and denied the defense’s request to add a Supreme Court case law that showed a similar charge with the defendant found not guilty. Attorneys were also given 40-minute limits on their arguments.

Marrs began by telling jurors that the defendant didn’t wake up on Oct. 30, 2018, intending to kill kids and no one should think that’s the case.

“Intent has nothing to do with the case. This is about her reckless actions. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s about accountability. The law applies to every one of us,” Marrs said. “So, you can say I feel bad but you can’t let that play into your decisions.”

Marrs said big, yellow buses are made that way for a reason.

“You want to bring attention to it. Because what’s on it? Kids. What do we gotta protect? Kids. They’re plain as day! The lights are actually more visible in the nighttime than the daytime. She tells Ace she sees it. I mean, they even have a conversation about it,” Marrs said.

“You can’t do what she did. It’s not reckless – it’s extremely reckless.”

Marrs said during the course of the four-day trial jurors heard from witnesses who testified they had no problem identifying the bus, including Maggie Harding, who was traveling behind Shepherd and is five years younger than Shepherd, and the freightliner driver who was behind the bus and sat in horror as he watched the accident.

“He even said ‘Hell, I thought it was a drunk driver, because the behavior is that reckless. He jumped out of his truck, pissed off. He thought it was a drunk driver,” Marrs said.

Marrs referenced state police reconstruction video that showed Shepherd had 15 seconds and a quarter-mile to react, but instead chose to do nothing “until she was on top of these kids, until she told us, ‘It was so too late.’”

Marrs said she totaled her truck and that the damage is unbelievable. He talked about the distances the children’s bodies were drug or thrown by the impact.

“She just blew through there.”

He said there’s roadway signage warning of a bus stop ahead.

“That’s reckless to blow that off,” he said.

“What’s the acceptable conduct? Slow down. I wish we weren’t here. This makes me sick. Slow down!” he said. “But she doesn’t. She doesn’t slow down. So, what do we do? We blame the school. Oh, it’s the school’s fault. This bus stop’s been  here for 50 years. Is this the safest stop? Heck no. Did they move the location at this? Heck yeah they did, because if people are gonna drive like she did, people will be getting killed all the time.”

Shepherd’s attorney Michael J. Tuszynski told jurors the state is attempting to criminalize what is an accident.

He reminded jurors that Shepherd wasn’t in a hurry, she didn’t have anywhere she had to be, and that she was driving at a reasonable speed.

“The bus driver testified he couldn’t see the children because it was so dark,” Tuszynski said. “I’m not blaming Mr. (Robert) Reid, but I want you to think about the position he’s in. There is no direction given to him by the school corporation, no direction or guidance from the state of Indiana. It’s ‘Just use your best judgment in pitch black on a highway where children cross.’ The school should have known – and they did – they had prior complaints.”

He told jurors it doesn’t take a degree in transportation or engineering to know it’s not safe.

“It’s ridiculous. I guess the community’s lucky that something like this hasn’t happened before,” he said.

He reminded jurors that Shepherd testified she didn’t know what the vehicle was but she knew it wasn’t in her lane. He said the positioning of the semi behind the bus caused them to appear as one, large vehicle with multiple lights.

“Ultimately, she’s mistaken, but she thinks it’s moving,” he said.

Tuszynski told jurors that they already knew what they were looking for when the state played the reconstruction video.

Referencing Shepherd’s calm demeanor jurors saw in video interviews and through state witness testimony, Tuszynski said, “I do not know the proper way to process that, on either side of the fence.”

“You have to do this clinically. It does not diminish who the children were, or the loss and the grief the family feels or the community,” he said, adding that for the jurors to find her guilty of reckless homicide, Shepherd would have had to have recognized there was harm and said she didn’t care, she’s going to do what she’s going to do anyway.

Marrs got the last word and told jurors there’s been two accidents in 50 years at that bus stop so he wouldn’t call it inherently dangerous. He also said it’s not the bus driver’s fault.

Marrs said she doesn’t have to know it’s a bus. “If it’s an accident, it can still be reckless.”

“The thing that really makes me saddened in this case, we’ve all heard the saying, ‘But for the grace of God go you or I,’ but that’s not the facts of the case. This wouldn’t have been you or I because we don’t do that. We don’t drive that way,” Marrs said. “We shouldn’t be here. Those kids don’t get to have Halloween, no Thanksgiving, no Christmas, no Halloween next year or the next year. Their lives are over. They’re done. And why? All because of her reckless behavior.”

Marrs then held up his wrist and told jurors to wait for the 15 seconds of time she had to react.

“You can feel bad the defendant. Hell, I feel bad for the defendant, but not nearly as bad as I do for the family who lost those kids and those children. If this isn’t reckless, then God help us all. It’s reckless as hell,” Marrs said.

Jurors began deliberations at 3:24 p.m.