Nearly 17 years after 5-month old Lance Jasper died as the result of shaken impact syndrome, his killer may be released on parole. The Prisoner Review board will hold a parole hearing in February for Lance’s aunt, Crystal J. Jasper, now 36 years old.
On March 11, 1998, baby Lance was taken to the Emergency Room at Central Kansas Medical Center in Great Bend. Lance was transported by Life Watch helicopter to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, but his condition deteriorated. On March 12, 1998, he had no brain activity. After a final test to assess the baby’s condition, Lance was removed from life support and died on March 13, 1998.
Crystal J. Jasper, who was known at the time as Crystal Jasper-Spies, was convicted of first-degree murder, based on child abuse. She was sentenced by Judge Hannelore Kitts to life in prison, and would not be eligible for parole for 15 years.
Jasper is incarcerated at the Topeka Correctional Facility under minimum security. If approved for parole, she could be released in March.
Public comment sessions will be held this month. Sessions will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Jan. 14, at the Police and Courts building in Derby; 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 16, at the Topeka Municipal Courthouse; and 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Jan. 26; at City Hall in Kansas City.
Any citizen who would like to express comments in writing may send a letter to Kansas Department of Corrections, Prisoner Review Board; 714 SW Jackson St., Suite 300; Topeka, KS 66603.
In determining parole suitability, the board considers several factors, such as the crime; disciplinary record; reports of physical/mental examinations; comments received from the victim, the public and criminal justice officials; prison capacity; and risk factors revealed by any risk assessment.
The case was heard by Judge Hannelore Kitts and prosecuted by Barton County Attorney Rick Scheuffler. Jasper appealed the first-degree murder conviction, arguing she should have been convicted of second-degree murder which would make her eligible for parole after 10 years.
Her conviction was upheld by the Kansas Supreme Court, which summarized the crime:
Crystal Jasper lived with her boyfriend, Jerome Spies, and lived across the street from her brother and sister-in-law, Mark and Debbie Jasper, in Great Bend. On March 11, 1998, Crystal was caring for her niece, Miranda, age 2, and nephew, Lance, age 5 months. Crystal had arrived at her brother’s home at approximately 5:15-5:20 in the morning. Mark and Debbie left for work at approximately 5:45 a.m.
Sometime between 5:45 and 7:30 a.m., Crystal went to her home, changed her jeans, and then returned to her brother’s home to care for the children. Shortly thereafter, she came home and informed Jerome that something was wrong with Lance. Jerome went with Crystal to check on Lance. After observing that Lance was not breathing, Jerome hurried to a neighbor’s house and called an ambulance. He then returned to Lance and began CPR efforts.
The autopsy of Lance’s body performed by Dr. Corrie May revealed several injuries. Dr. May concluded that Lance had suffered a subdural hematoma and two skull fractures. Dr. May also noted that Lance had prior to the day of his death sustained four rib fractures on the left side and a right forearm fracture. Dr. May opined that Lance’s death was caused by shaken impact syndrome.
At the trial, the defense called no witnesses. Evidence was admitted that Crystal suffers from epilepsy and that medication does not completely control the illness.
The Great Bend Tribune reported on the sentencing, where Crystal first admitted her actions and responsibility for the death of Lance. Sobbing, the defendant apologized to her family.