Woman convicted of murdering Lafayette pizza deliveryman receives 51-year sentence

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Jaelynn Billups is escorted out of Tippecanoe County Superior Court 2 after being sentenced to 51 years in prison, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 in Lafayette. Billups was found guilty in October of felony murder, two counts of murder while committing a felony, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, theft, pointing a firearm, carrying a handgun without a license and theft of a firearm.
Jaelynn Billups is escorted out of Tippecanoe County Superior Court 2 after being sentenced to 51 years in prison, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 in Lafayette. Billups was found guilty in October of felony murder, two counts of murder while committing a felony, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, theft, pointing a firearm, carrying a handgun without a license and theft of a firearm.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Seventeen-year-old Jaelynn Billups stole the life of Domino's Pizza deliveryman Joshua Ungersma when she shot him from behind late Aug. 31, 2020.

Billups stole the life of her boyfriend, Alberto Vanmeter, when the two conspired to rob Ungersma at gunpoint, forcing the deliveryman to defend his life by killing Vanmeter.

While alive, Billups, who is now 18, lost her freedom until she's 55 years old for convictions of murder, felony murder, carrying a handgun without a license, theft. Her 51-year sentence includes a five-year sentence enhancement for using a firearm in the commission of a crime.

The maximum sentence she faced was more than 152 years. Prosecutors asked for 121 years, and Billups attorneys asked for leniency and 50 years.

Billups took no responsibility for the killings in her statement before sentencing.

"I do recognize there is a lot of grief in the room due to the loss of a loved one," Billups said, noting she's experienced that pain, including the loss of her boyfriend, Vanmeter, on the night she killed Ungersma.

"It's not a good thing. It's not something anyone wants to feel. I do feel for you," she said.

She blamed her killing of Ungersma on Ungersma, saying, "... That night, a lot of things could have gone different.

"Only one man can judge me, and that's the man upstairs," she said to the Ungersma family in the courtroom, who were seated across from her in the jury box.

Her words did not persuade Senior Judge Thomas Busch one way or the other, but Busch determined she deserved a lighter sentence for her crimes.

Busch broke down the sentences of 45 years for each murder conviction, which will be served concurrently, followed by five years of probation when she's released.

For carrying the handgun without a license and theft of a handgun, he ordered her to serve one year, each concurrent. He credited her pretrial detention, meaning she's already in effect served that one-year.

Busch ordered five years — the minimum sentence — on a sentence enhancing charge of using a firearm in the commission of her crimes.

Billups will have to serve 75 percent of the 51-year sentence before she's eligible for release. By that time, she'll be 55 years old.

Billups and Vanmeter planned to rob a pizza delivery man, so they ordered the pie to be delivered to a vacant house a few doors south of her mother's home.

Vanmeter pulled a gun when Ungersma arrived with the pizza, but Ungersma defended his life by pulling his legally carried sidearm and killing Vanmeter.

As Ungersma stood in 16th Street near Hart Street yelling for neighbors to call 911, Billups picked up Vanmeter's gun, walked up behind Ungersma and killed him.

When police arrived, she concocted a story that Ungersma and Vanmeter killed each other in a gun fight over a misperception that Vanmeter was a robber.

Jurors convicted her on Oct. 29 of three counts of murder — the murder of Ungersma, causing the murder of Vanmeter, and murder while committing a felony. They also convicted her of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, theft, theft of a firearm, pointing a handgun and carrying a handgun without a license.

Because of double-jeopardy concerns, convictions were only entered on the murder of Vanmeter and Ungersma, theft of a firearm and carrying a handgun without a license,

Billups indicated she planned to file an appeal, and an attorney was appointed to help her.

Reach Ron Wilkins at rwilkins@jconline.com. Follow on Twitter: @RonWilkins2.

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Journal & Courier: Lafayette pizza deliveryman murderer receives 51-year sentence

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