Convicted murderer barred from contact with her son

Woman serving life term

planned husband's death

May 05, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County woman sentenced to life without parole for orchestrating the shooting death of her husband will not be allowed to have any contact with their 13-month-old son, a judge ruled yesterday.

According to a written order signed by Carroll County Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr., Melissa Baumgardner Shipley is to have no visits with her youngest son, nor any phone calls or letters. Beck's order allows the possibility of contact with the child at a later date.

The decision followed a ruling Friday that granted permanent custody of the child to his paternal grandparents, Brenda and Raymond Shipley of Westminster. Last week, the judge also allowed the boy's name to be changed from Carter Ray Baumgardner to Carter Scott Shipley.

Beck's ruling is the second in two weeks in which a judge has barred the children of Melissa Shipley from visiting her in prison. She has two sons, ages 9 and 12, from a previous marriage. In a hearing last month, Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway barred the two older boys from visiting her in prison but allowed her contact with them through monitored phone calls and letters.

Although Beck acknowledged Galloway's earlier ruling, he wrote yesterday: "The court feels that the facts which led to Ms. Shipley's incarceration make the relationship with Carter Scott Shipley unique."

Melissa Shipley, 33, was five months pregnant when her husband, Scott Shipley, 27, was found fatally shot at a Westminster trucking company Nov. 15, 2002. She was arrested 11 days later and charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy.

Butchie Junior Stemple, 29, of Taneytown confessed to shooting Scott Shipley, and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and conspiracy. He testified against Melissa Shipley during her two-week trial last summer and said the woman plotted her husband's murder to obtain Scott Shipley's $100,000 life insurance policy.

A jury convicted Melissa Shipley, and in January she was sentenced to consecutive life sentences, including life without the possibility of parole and sent to the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup. Her parents, Clifford and Bertha Baumgardner, who had been granted weekend visits with Carter, brought the child to visit their daughter at Carroll County Detention Center and continued those visits with her at Jessup.

At Friday's hearing, the Shipleys expressed dismay and disappointment that their grandson was being exposed to the prison and his mother. They toured the prison last month and saw barbed-wire fences and security guards that they thought would scare their grandson. They expressed satisfaction yesterday with the judge's ruling.

"It was what we were hoping for," Raymond Shipley said. "We're really overjoyed with what Judge Beck did."

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