Carroll judge bars Shipley's two sons from visiting their mother in prison

April 22, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County woman sent to prison this year for masterminding the killing of her husband will not be allowed visits with her two young sons from a previous marriage, a judge ruled yesterday.

Following the recommendations of a court-appointed attorney for the two older children of Melissa Lynn Baumgardner Shipley, Carroll Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway barred them from visiting her in prison. However, she will be allowed to have monitored telephone calls with them twice a month and can write them letters.

Galloway will also allow the children's maternal grandparents, Clifford Ray and Bertha L. Baumgardner of Westminster, to visit with their grandsons, who live nearby with their father, Shannon W. Miller.

According to a report filed by the children's attorney, Samantha Z. Smith, the boys, ages 12 and 9, have suffered "substantial emotional distress as a result of the upheaval in their lives."

The boys have been living with their father since their mother was arrested in the killing of their stepfather, Scott E. Shipley, 27. Shipley was shot in November 2002 on his last day of work at a Westminster trucking company. Melissa Lynn Baumgardner Shipley, then pregnant with the couple's son, was arrested 11 days later and charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder after the gunman, Butchie Junior Stemple of Taneytown, admitted shooting Shipley. Stemple, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, testified at Shipley's trial that she promised him $5,000 to shoot her husband.

Shipley, 33, was sentenced to life without parole in January after being convicted of both charges and was taken to the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup. She appeared yesterday at the hearing.

Also observing the hearing yesterday were Scott Shipley's parents, Raymond and Brenda Shipley. The Shipleys were awarded temporary custody of Scott and Melissa Shipley's only child, who last month celebrated his first birthday. The Shipleys will be in court next week to seek permanent custody.

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