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Kyler Parker

Kyle Parker gets 60 years for assaulting, killing 1-year-old

by Leigh Egan

Outrage sparks after a child killer escapes the death penalty

An Indiana man responsible for abducting, sexually assaulting, and killing a 1-year-old toddler in 2016 was sentenced to 60 years behind bars on Monday, and it’s not sitting well with those who want him in prison for life.

RTV 6 reports that Kyle Parker, 23, made a plea deal with prosecutors to lessen his sentence time and drop charges if he admitted to murdering and kidnapping toddler Shaylyn Ammerman in 2016. Along with getting several lesser charges dropped, Parker’s capital murder charge was reduced to murder, meaning he escaped death penalty. With the new plea deal, he won’t even face a life sentence.

Owen County prosecutor Don VanDerMoere said he wasn’t happy with the plea deal, but given the circumstances surrounding the case, he felt that it was “as close to justice as we’ll get.”

“Blame me that we don’t have evidence. Blame me that we’ve got witnesses that are impeachable. But leave that family alone. Send him for 60 years to the department of corrections and let this be done. Your honor, I ask you to accept the plea deal in this case. It’s not what I want, but it’s the right thing that has to be done.”

The Backstory

Parker was a friend of the victim’s uncle, Adam Ammerman. They were both at the home of Shalyn’s father, Justin Ammerman, on March 23, 2016, the day the toddler disappeared. They were all drinking, but when everyone went to sleep, Parker stayed up and drank alone. At some point, Parker left, slamming the door behind him. Adam heard the door slam, and told detective he looked out and saw Parker leaving. Adam thought he saw Parker carrying something, but the suspect wouldn’t turn around when Adam called out to him.

“Adam stated he saw Kyle Parker walking away from the house and he was carrying something,” the affidavit read. “Adam advised he yelled at Kyle to say goodbye but Kyle would not turn around. Adam informed detectives that he thought he saw a foot dangling from Kyle’s side but was not certain so he went back to bed.”

Detectives narrowed in on Parker rather quickly. While being questioned, the suspect’s story changed numerous times. Before they found Shaylyn’s body, authorities already had him in cuffs. Later that evening, on March 23, they found her tiny body lying lifeless, close to the banks of the White River, near Gosport, Indiana. An autopsy later revealed that the toddler had been raped and then strangled to death. Dr. Donna Stewart of the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office in Louisville, stated that it was the “worst case of sexual assault” she’d ever seen.

There was no DNA evidence found on Shaylyn that linked Parker to her murder, and to make matters worse, the witnesses in the case had a “large number of impeachable offenses,” such as rape and other similar charges, according to Master Trooper Stacy Lee Brown of the Indiana State Police. The only evidence they had to go on was a jailhouse confession that Parker made to his stepfather, Mike Patton, and unreliable witness accounts, according to an Owen County affidavit.

“Mike [Patton] stated when he spoke to Kyle on 3-24-16 during a smoke break from the interview, Kyle informed him that the police would have the truth once they found Shaylyn’s body and the DNA with it.”

In September 2016, prosecutors publicly announced that they’d be seeking the death penalty against Parker, but last month, they declared a plea deal had been reached, and Parker would serve 60 years.

Aggravated battery, child molestation, obstruction of justice, rape, strangulation, and failure to report a dead body, and unlawful disposition of a body were all dismissed, while the murder and kidnapping charges against Parker remained.

With good behavior, Parker could be out of jail within 45 years. The plea deal outraged Shaylyn’s family and members of the community, but the prosecution urges people to understand that the case against Parker “would not be fool-proof” in front of a jury, and it’s the best that could be done.

Meanwhile, Jessica Stewart, Shaylyn’s mother, continues to have nightmares about losing her daughter. She indicated that she’d never forgive Parker for taking Shaylyn away from her.

“You took my loving, sweet and beautiful daughter away from me, her brother, her dad and everyone who loves her. I hope you live with your guilt and it torments you for the rest of your life.”

[Feature Photo: Handout/Owen County Sheriff’s Office]

Leigh Egan is a crime-fighting journalist and editor who specializes in breaking news and investigative true crime coverage. With more than a decade of experience under her belt, Leigh’s work can be found in a number of high-profile national publications. For Leigh, learning didn’t stop after college. She considers herself a lifelong learner who frequently takes media and journalism courses to keep abreast of the latest happenings and innovations in her field.