INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis man is sentenced to 10 years behind bars after pleading guilty to a burglary charge in exchange for his murder case being dismissed.
Inside a home on Indy’s southeast side on Christmas morning 2020, 40-year-old Tiffiny Allen was shot to death.
Prosecutors charged her ex-boyfriend Zacharia Schmidt with that murder, but as part of a plea deal, the murder charge was dropped and replaced with a charge of burglary.
The victim’s mother and two of his daughters told the judge they feel the justice system failed their family.
The judge said she understands their anger, but still accepted the plea agreement.
“This burglary charge is a joke. How could they do that?” said the victim’s mother Julie Allen Witt. “The only thing he stole was my daughter’s life.”
The plea deal, which was accepted in court by Judge Jennifer Harrison, came against the wishes of the victim’s family.
“We are terribly frustrated with the justice system,” said Julie.
“I think it’s a joke and Zach knows what he did,” said the victim’s daughter Lilyian Allen.
According to the affidavit, Zacharia left the scene of the killing only to return hours later covered in the victim’s blood. His sister Chelsea Schmidt repeatedly lied to police that the death was a suicide.
The murder weapon was found wiped free of prints and the coroner ruled the case a homicide.
Prosecutors claim the murder case was hampered by jail phone calls which indicate Chelsea admitted to the killing, but she’s not charged with murder because this year she pleaded guilty to assisting a criminal commit murder.
Almost her entire sentence was suspended and she was placed on probation.
“You know it was a joke. This whole thing was a sham show,” said Julie.
Beyond their own frustration, Tiffany Allen’s family insists the plea deal sends a bad message to the entire community.
“It just shows you can get away with murder,” said Lilyian.
“Yeah, it shows the younger generation you can get away with murder. That’s what this case just showed everybody,” said Julie.
The family also criticized the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for allowing Chelsea, Zacharia and other family to get together inside the jail when Chelsea earned her High School Equivalency degree.
The family worries that the meeting allowed the co-defendants to speak about the murder case without being properly monitored.
The Sheriff’s Office posted a picture of that meeting on their Facebook page. Zacharia was pending trial for murder when the picture was taken.
As part of the sentence, Schmidt agreed to serve 10 years with the Indiana Department of Corrections followed by 3 years of home detention. To date, he has already served 2 and a half years behind bars.