ALBION — Kyra Frost, the third and final defendant sentenced in relation the March 5, 2018, double murder in Ligonier, will spend no days in prison.
After pleading guilty to two Level 5 felony counts of assisting a criminal, Frost received a sentence Thursday in Noble Superior Court 1 of four years executed, with all of that time eligible to be served on home detention, and two years probation.
Taking into account credit for time she’s already served in the Noble County Jail after her arrest and then on electronic monitoring on pre-trial release, the remaining executed time boils down to just over two years — 766 days.
Frost was arrested and initially charged with counts of murder and felony murder for the March 5, 2018, shooting at Riverside Villa Apartments in Ligonier.
On that date, Frost, her boyfriend Michael J. Johnson, and Tiffani Cox, an associate of Johnson’s, traveled to Ligonier from Fort Wayne in attempt to retrieve a black Prada purse. The purse, which reportedly was a gift to Frost from Johnson, had been removed from his vehicle earlier that day when Cox was driving it in Ligonier while dealing drugs and visiting friends.
Upon arriving at the apartment, the trio gained entry and, in a scene that unfolded in about a minute’s time, Johnson drew a handgun and demanded return of the purse.
A man inside the apartment, Justin Adams, exited a bedroom and ran out the back door to try to escape. After jumping a railing on the enclosed back porch and making his way to a lower-level sidewalk, Adams was shot in the back by Johnson, with the bullet severing his spine. Adams fell and died face-up on the sidewalk.
Johnson then turned back into the apartment and shot Amanda Feldstein in the back of the head and fired a third shot at, but missed, Amberly Brown, who was standing in the kitchen.
After the shooting, the trio fled out the back door to their vehicles. Frost and Cox got into Frost’s Jeep, while Johnson returned to his car. They drove away and got lost in rural Noble, Ligonier and Elkhart counties before stopping at a gas station in Middlebury.
After stopping at the gas station, they found they way back to U.S. 20 and began to make a return trip to Fort Wayne. While passing through LaGrange, a LaGrange deputy marshal spotted Johnson’s car and attempted to stop him, resulting in a high-speed pursuit that extended into Steuben County, where he was then arrested.
Frost and Cox, who were behind Johnson’s vehicle, weren’t noticed and continued to Kendallville. Frost dropped Cox off at Parkview Noble Hospital before attempting to visit her mother’s house in Kendallville. She wasn’t home, so Frost then drove back to her apartment in Fort Wayne, where police later arrived and arrested her.
Frost chose to plead guilty to the two Level 5 felony counts for her actions after the shooting in helping Cox and Johnson leave the apartment complex and attempt to evade police. As part of her plea agreement, attorneys agreed to have sentences in the case run consecutive, but placed a maximum possible executed time at eight years.
Each Level 5 felony count carried a potential penalty of one to six years in prison.
At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Frost’s attorney Bart Arnold called witnesses to present testimony including a therapist she has been seeing since January, Ligonier Detective Sgt. Gary Cox and Noble County Community Corrections Director Danyel Wagner.
Frost’s therapist, Linda Hartley, talked about the sessions she’s held with Frost and provided some perspective about the incident.
She described Frost as a “rescuer” and that part of the motivation for her relationship was to try to help him off of drugs. One of Frost’s brothers had previously struggled with substance abuse and family intervention had helped get him in recovery.
The effort with Johnson didn’t go well, however, and she described that Frost had been attempting to break off the relationship, albeit unsuccessfully. That information clashed with previous descriptions of their relationship — that Johnson had given her the purse as a gift, that he attempted to protect her from legal ramifications after the shooting and that she was currently pregnant with his child.
Still, Hartley said Frost had shown remorse and that she believed Frost had been and could again be a productive member of society.
“She has lots of shame about what happened,” Hartley said.
In a brief appearance on the stand, Gary Cox stated that he had originally intended to charge Frost with aiding a criminal based on his assessment of the shooting, although prosecutors ultimately chose to charge her with murder.
Gary Cox also testified that he felt those charges were appropriate for her involvement in the incident.
Lastly, Wagner provided some testimony about Frost’s performance thus far on pre-trial release, after she had been allowed to bond out of the Noble County Jail.
“Kyra has done very well on home detention,” Wagner said. When asked if she thought Frost would perform well on probation, she answered “Home detention is more strict that probation and she’s done fine on home detention.”
Frost then read a statement to the court, expressing her sorrow for the March 5, 2018, shooting.
“My involvement in this is not in my character,” Frost said as she paused several times due while crying. “With every part of me, I am truly sorry this happened.”
On the prosecution side, Noble County Prosecutor’s Office victim advocate Terri Skinner read a statement prepared by Marissa Gerard, the sister of Feldstein.
In that letter, Gerard asked for justice for her sister, who was killed in the senseless crime. She also stated that she felt the entire incident could have been avoided if any one of the three people — Johnson, Frost or Tiffani Cox — had decided not to take part.
“Mandy’s life was not disposable,” Skinner read. “We have been given a life sentence as victims.”
Michelle Limerick, Adams’ mother, also read a victim impact statement, highlighting that Frost had an opportunity to do something to try to help her son after the shooting but instead did nothing.
“My son, my dead son, I carried my son’s ashes in a box, close to my heart,” Limerick said, building off an earlier statement about how she recalled carrying him home from the hospital after he was born.
While trying to imagine what Adams was thinking as he lay dying on the sidewalk, Limerick came up with questions including “Why are they walking past me? Why aren’t they helping me? Why is no one calling 911?”
Upon argument, Arnold presented numerous mitigating factors in his client’s favor, including that she had no criminal history, was unlikely to re-offend, was graded low-risk by a pre-sentence assessment and that there was a strong level of coercion and fear due to Johnson’s erratic and violent behavior.
Frost had also cooperated with authorities, although Arnold accused the former prosecutor’s administration of being set on pursuing murder charges against Frost even in light of her attempts to help their prosecution.
Arnold suggested a total sentence of six years with two years to be served on home detention.
Noble County Prosecutor Jim Mowery saw the situation a little different, although he didn’t attempt to dispute the numerous mitigating factors pointed out by defense counsel.
Instead, he attacked the sincerity of Frost’s attempts to get therapy as preparation for sentencing as well as her level of remorse in a statement that affected her more when she talked about the impact to her family than the victims’ families.
Mowery identified Johnson as the “incredibly terrible person” in the incident, and stated that Tiffani Cox played a key role in bringing all of the parties together in what led to a deadly confrontation.
Although Frost’s role was different, she made little effort to do the right thing after the shooting occurred. According to testimony from Gary Cox, Frost’s attitude at interrogation was “arrogant” and she even laughed at some of his questions the day after the shooting.
Mowery sought a maximum sentence of eight years executed in Indiana’s prisons.
Kirsch, while deliberating, said he definitely agreed that Johnson was the “bad, evil person” by far, although neither of the two women should escape responsibility.
“Their culpability is not even close to that of Michael Johnson,” Kirsch said. “(Frost’s) actions in assisting that criminal start after leaving that apartment.”
Kirsch, however, had to agree with Arnold’s many mitigating factors and the constraint of the charges she had pleaded to.
Kirsch opted to give Frost an advisory sentence of three years on each on both counts, but with an executed sentence of four years and two years suspended to probation. The executed time can be served on home detention, instead of in prison.
As part of the four years executed, Frost also received significant credit for time already served, totaling almost two years.
After credit, Frost has a remaining executed sentence of two years and 36 days.
She was fined $1,000, ordered to continue counseling and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service.