Man convicted of killing Mishawaka cop cut loose after serving 12 years of 31-year sentence

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 7:37 PM EST
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - He was sentenced to 31 years for killing a police officer and his K-9 during a drunk driving incident but only served 12 years.

On Monday, Shawn Devine was released from prison on parole, one day after the 12-year anniversary of the crash that killed Mishawaka Police Cpl. James Szuba.

Just days after his release, folks are now fuming online.

The Mishawaka F.O.P. Lodge 91 President Richard Freeman expressing his concern in a " target="_blank">Facebook post saying, “Imagine going through the court process to seek “Justice.” And then a day after the anniversary of your loved one being taken from you, their killer is paroled from prison after not even serving half of the so-called “Justice” imposed on them....Why?!”

The disappointment did not stop there. Szuba’s wife, Debbie Szuba, commenting on " target="_blank">Freeman’s post, which includes a picture of Devine’s latest mugshot, saying:

“To see this picture and that he has been released makes me sick to my stomach. After crying all weekend, and not just then but the last twelve years. All the pain lived through for me and my children, for my grandkids who never got to meet and know their grandpa. The pain for family and friends. The pain of all memorials through each year, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Not ONE day goes by that I don’t feel the pain of his loss.

His family has him back…….I can’t say that for mine.

Until the day we are reunited we will continue to feel this pain.

Never Forgotten Jim & Ricky

Debbie Szuba, wife of late James Szuba

Devine’s being cut loose nearly 19 years early left questions about how he was able to avoid so much jail time. But after 16 News Now reached out to the Indiana Department of Corrections on Thursday, Indiana D.O.C. Chiefs Communications Officer Annie Goeller confirmed Devine’s release in an email as legitimate and completely legal.

“Information about what classes an offender has taken and credits earned is private, so I am not able to share that with you about Mr. Devine.

Please note that Mr. Devine was sentenced under laws in place prior to changes made by the legislature in 2014. Under the old sentencing law, offenders would receive 2 days credit for every one day served, effectively cutting their sentence in half. That would also apply to any time served in jail awaiting trial and sentencing. His court file in the county of prosecution would detail how many days credit he received that would have been applied to his DOC sentence.

In general, offenders can receive credit in DOC for taking educational or vocational courses, but that time is limited under state law (IC 35-50-6-3). The current law limits that credit time to 2 years or 1/3 of the sentence, whichever is less. Prior to the 2014 law change, the maximum was 4 years or 1/3 of the sentence.”

Indiana D.O.C. Chiefs Communications Officer Annie Goeller

To paraphrase, because Devine was sentenced under old sentencing laws prior to 2014, it allowed him to cut his 31-year sentence in half for good behavior. Then, Devine was able to shave up to four years off his sentence for taking several D.O.C. classes and programs.

Despite how impossible it may sound, Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council Public Information Officer Zach Osowski says large time cuts for offenders sentenced prior to 2014 are totally normal. It is also normal for the early releases of those offenders to stir up a lot of controversy.

“Prosecutors across the state get a lot of angry calls when these kinds of things happen because the victims hear about it and they are like, ‘Well, I thought he was going away for 15 years, why is he getting out in 6?’ Based on the Department of Corrections’ formula, he (Devine) was eligible to get out and he got out. You can’t try someone for the same crime twice. He was convicted of that and that is pretty much the end of it,” Osowski says.

Under current law, Devine would have had to serve at least 21 years of his 31-year sentence. Instead, he walks free after serving just twelve years.

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