MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Berkeley County judge sentenced a 19-year-old Inwood resident to 3 to 15 years incarceration and a $3,000 fine Friday in the 2019 New Year’s Eve death of an 18-year-old Musselman High School student.
Nicholas James Shackleford, 19, had previously entered a guilty plea October 19th to the charge of driving under the influence resulting in death.
Berkeley County Circuit Judge R. Steven Redding said Friday he had weighed the victim impact statements from family members and friends and also the behavior of the defendant in the months between the 2019 car crash in Inwood that claimed the life of Kristen Barron.
Shackelford had been behind the wheel New Year’s Eve when he flipped the car at the intersection of Sulphur Springs Road and Phoebe Way. Barron was ejected and died at the scene.
Barron’s mother Tanya Barrington Vergara told the court Friday it’s been a painful few months.
“There are no words to describe the pain,” Vergara said. “It’s like having your heart ripped out.”
Vergara said she begged God to let her trade places with Kristen.
“Death for me would have been easier than going through this pain,” she said.
Barron would have graduated from Musselman High School in May. instead, her mother said they carried her cap and gown and a picture across the stage and accepted her diploma for her. She expressed regret that she’d never see her daughter reach her dreams.
Her father Terry Barron said he has visited his daughter’s grave 150 times since they buried her.
“When Kristen was killed, so was I. She only got 18 years and 27 days because of Shackelford’s careless disregard for my daughter’s life. He’s not spent a minute behind bars since this happened,” Barron told the court. “Having to bury your child is the most difficult thing a parent can go through. No parent should ever have to do that, especially due to someone else’s negligence.”
Shackelford told the court he was truly sorry and hoped to live his life in a way that honored Kristen, saying he deserved the “worst punishment.”
Shackelford said the night he was airlifted to the hospital, he thought he was going to die.
“Dying that night would have been easier for me than to live with what I did that night,” he said.
As he announced sentencing, Judge Redding said he took into consideration statements by Shackelford’s family and friends relating to his character, but said the defendant’s actions spoke louder to him about his propensity to re-offend.
Redding said Shackelford had tested positive multiple times for marijuana and had missed 13 sessions at the Day Report Center and two court hearings and had not shown up for six testing appointments.
“Driving while intoxicated is a violent crime,” Judge Redding said. “The court does not think the defendant has taken this seriously as he would have you believe.”