SOUTH BEND — Moments after Jenifer Leveque appeared in court and, through her attorney, asked for a bond reduction, the sister of one of her alleged victims said the case is simply a matter of justice.
“They were stolen from us,” said Kim Karkiewicz of her sister Lisa Clippinger and brother-in-law Matthew. “We want as much as the court system can do to bring justice for their kids.”
Matthew and Lisa Clippinger were shot and killed in their Mishawaka home early in the morning June 2.
Two days later, during his arraignment via video-conference from the St. Joseph County Jail, Steven Clippinger, Matthew Clippinger’s brother and a convicted murderer, admitted his role in the couple’s death.
“The facts are there and we all know what happened,” Steven Clippinger said then. “That was my brother and sister-in-law that I did that to.”
But Leveque, Steven Clippinger’s girlfriend and mother of his young child, said during her arraignment that her role in the crime — she’s been charged with assisting a criminal and providing a felon with a handgun, both Class A felonies — was coerced.
“I was forced to do that,” Leveque said June 3. “He put a gun to my head and said he’d shoot me if I didn’t drive or he’d hurt my 14-month-old child.”
But today, during her initial appearance before St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jane Woodward Miller, Leveque remained mostly quiet as her defense attorney tried to seek a possible bond reduction — which earlier had been set at $6,000.
But, Miller said, the bond set by Chief Superior Court Judge Michael Scopelitis was specific in its request not to decrease the bond in the case — and that she wasn’t going to go against his opinion.
Leveque was given until Aug. 2 to work out a plea deal or a trial will be scheduled Sept. 24, the same day Steven Clippinger is scheduled to go to trial before Superior Court Judge Jerome Frese.
Also today, a hearing was set July 5 so prosecutors may request a warrant to search Leveque’s cell phone records, as well as have her submit to a DNA swab.
After the hearing, Karkiewicz said the family — members of both Lisa and Matthew’s families have attended both of the suspects’ hearings — said they were still coming to grips with the tragedy.
The couple’s children, who were home at the time of the shootings, have had “their world turned upside down,” Karkiewicz said.
Now, she said, the family is committed to seeing that justice is done.
“We know it won’t bring either Lisa or Matt back,” Karkiewicz said, “but we owe it to their kids.”
Staff writer Dave Stephens: