A father in Washington State pleaded guilty to beating his pregnant wife to death. Ian Sweeney, 32, was sentenced to 16 years and five months in prison for killing Stephanie Chaipis, 27.
According to the cops, Sweeney said he took meth twice on Jan. 10, 2021 — once at around 1:00 a.m. and again at sometime around 9:00 or 9:30 a.m. At about 10:00 or 11:00 a.m., he started questioning Chaipis’s “devotion and commitment” to him. The couple began to argue. Their four children, ages 1 to 8, were in the home when Sweeney shoved Chaipis into a wall. She hit her head, and he then repeatedly slapped her and bloodied her nose, the defendant admitted.
“During this time, Chaipis began to pull back and ‘cover up’ from SWEENY,” authorities said. “SWEENEY confirmed that Chaipis never struck him back. During this time their four children were downstairs in the living room. Their only son entered the bedroom at one point and according to SWEENEY saw ‘me hitting her.'”
According to cops, Sweeney admitted punching Chaipis on her chest, arms, thigh, and knees.
“A lot,” he said, when asked how many times he struck Chaipis. She was eight weeks pregnant.
Sweeney said he told his children that he was in trouble that he would be going to “adult time out.” He said he initially did not seek medical attention for Chaipis because she began to talk more and seemed more alert, but she began to “deteriorate again” by 6:00 p.m. She then apparently laid down and stopped breathing.
Sweeney originally faced charges of assault in the first degree and attempted murder in the second degree with a domestic violence enhancement because Chaipis initially survived, although a doctor said she was brain dead, had sustained head trauma, and had a possible skull fracture. Chaipis languished on life support for a week before dying. Prosecutors upgraded the second charge to murder in the second degree after Chaipis’s death.
Loved ones described the victim in glowing terms. Childhood friend Charlotte Froescher remembered a time they camped in her backyard, according to The Tacoma News Tribune.
“I remember sleeping in a tent in her backyard, listening to her tell me stories all night about the animals playing in the trees above us,” she wrote. “We ordered pizzas and ate them on the floor, collected icicles, went to Dairy Queen every night after swimming in her pool until we were pruny, started a band.”
Prosecutors requested 14 years and 5 months behind bars, but family wanted more.
“To let him out of prison in such a short time is endangering any other woman that may fall prey to him in the future,” wrote Debra Mattson, who raised Chaipis as a daughter after Stephanie’s birth mother died. “A leopard doesn’t change his spots.”
“A sad case like this has no happy ending,” Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office communications manager Adam Faber told Law&Crime in a statement. “We are glad Mr. Sweeney pleaded guilty and admitted his crime, but that admission and his years in prison offer no recompense for the taking of a life. Our thoughts now are with the couple’s children; we hope they can thrive in the future after this tragic start.”
The maximum sentence for second-degree murder could have been life in prison. The standard sentencing range generally applied, however, is between 123 and 220 months; the defendant fell within that range with a 197-month sentence.
Read some of the case files below.
[Screenshot via The Tacoma News Tribune]
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