15 Shots Killed Shelby Allen
What's perhaps more shocking is that the 17-year-old drank them at a friend's house, while the parents were home. Here, how her mom is fighting to make sure no other child dies this way
The Legal Loophole continued...
Early in the texting, the moment when Jane described Shelby as "half snoring shaking" marked a critical turning point in the night's events: The forensic pathologist assigned to the case told Benito she'd probably been convulsing at that point. "Had medical help arrived, Shelby could have survived," says Benito.
In November 2009, Jane was acquitted. The Honorable Daniel Flynn ruled that she had not behaved in a criminally negligent way, and found that it was unclear how the second bottle of vodka had been provided for Shelby to fulfill her "unwavering intent" to down 15 vodka shots that night. Despite the outcome, Benito insists that this proceeding did increase awareness about how dangerous binge drinking and social hosting can be - and will continue to. "If one life is saved because of the awareness this raised, it's worth it," he says.
In his statement to the press, Adam Ryan, the attorney who represented the accused teenager during the proceeding, stressed that there was no winner in the case, stating that his client had lost a dear friend and that she would have to live with that loss - and her role in it. He argued that his client had been too young and inexperienced to realize that her friend was in danger of dying from alcohol poisoning.
While the host family cannot comment publicly about Shelby's death for legal reasons, Beasley, who is defending them in the civil suit, insists that his clients' lives have been turned upside down because a "deeply disturbed girl...on a suicide mission" was invited to their home for the night - and chose to drink herself to death there. "This case, which is about revenge and money, never should have been litigated," he says. "What happened was a horrible tragedy. I hate this case. But the Allens should have opened their arms to my clients, to their young daughter, who has suffered tremendously over the death of her friend, instead of lashing out vindictively."
"We're not making Shelby out to be a choirgirl," responds Mark R. Swartz, the Gold River, CA, attorney who is representing the Allens this time around. "It's established that no one forced her to drink." Friends and teachers were interviewed after Shelby's death, but no one presented an image of her as a troubled teen. Regardless of Shelby's reputation, Swartz continues, "if she was out of control or drinking too much, it was her friend [Jane's] responsibility to tell the parents what was happening. The father, in particular, should have known better than to leave a group of teenage girls alone with access to a full bar. He should have known what was going on in his own house. And he shouldn't have been allowing access to alcohol to underage kids, especially when he was concerned they were interested in the alcohol."