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Former Teacher Gets 20 Years

A former teacher who left a teenager for dead after snapping her neck pleaded guilty to attempted murder, and the victim said she did not expect an apology.

"I'm glad it's over with," said Ashley Reeves, who continues to undergo rehabilitation from the broken neck and other injuries she suffered in April 2006. She was not paralyzed but had to learn how to swallow, talk and move her head and arms again.

"I just want to continue with my life and not worry about it," she said Friday.

Reeves, 18, graduated from high school last month and plans to go to college.

Samson Shelton, 27, declined to address the court before he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempted first-degree murder.

Reeves' family signed off on the sentence and the plea deal.

"Ashley needed to have some peace," St. Clair County State's Attorney Robert Haida said, noting the plea deal spares her from having to testify.

Shelton's mother, Susan, said the family "reluctantly" settled for the deal, insisting he would not have gotten a fair trial because of "the continuing demonization of Sam."

Officials have said Shelton once taught at a middle school Reeves attended. At the time of the attack, Shelton taught driver's education and physical education at a high school, but not the one Reeves attended.

Shelton told authorities that he and Reeves had sex once and he was trying to break off the relationship while driving. He unbuckled her seat belt and tried to eject her from the car because she became unruly, according to Shelton's videotaped statement.

Shelton said he heard her neck pop and her body went limp. He drove to a city park and carried her into a wooded area "to make it look like she got strangled there." He said he tightened his belt around her neck, then heard a gurgle followed by nothing. She was found 30 hours later, clinging to life.

Shelton's plea came after a judge accepted a psychiatrist's assessment that Shelton was mentally fit. His competence had been questioned after an apparent suicide attempt last month.

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