Involuntary manslaughter sentence in Platte County case leaves victim’s family outraged

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PLATTE COUNTY, Mo. -- A guilty plea closed the case on a crash that killed a metro woman, but her former husband says justice wasn't served. Nearly four years after KCK mom Catherine Nienaber died in the crash, the man charged in the case is behind bars, but his sentence left Steve Nienaber outraged.

On October 29, 2013, Catherine Nienaber was looking forward to celebrating her 49th birthday, but was taken in an instant when the driver of a semi tractor-trailer plowed into her minivan at 45 Highway and I-435 in Platte County.

“What she wanted that day for her birthday was to go to mass. She loved going to mass," Steve Nienaber recalled.

Adam Shaw

Adam Shaw

He’s since remarried, but says after leaving mass that fateful day with their 7-year-old son, she was headed home when the unthinkable happened. Prosecutors say Adam Shaw, a Springfield truck driver, was speeding in his big rig, crossed the center line and hit the minivan head on.

"At the time of the collision, which was on a curve, so the posted speed limit was now 45. He was still going 65,” Nienaber said.

The mom of nine died instantly, and her young son suffered a broken hip and facial injuries. Investigators say Shaw suffered non-life threatening injuries.

"I had my oldest get married. He graduated from medical school and she was a large part of that and she wasn't there to celebrate those moments,” Nienaber told FOX 4’s Robert Townsend.

On Friday Shaw pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and received a four-year prison sentence. Shaw also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault related to the injuries suffered by Catherine's son and a driver in another car.


Catherine Nienaber

Nienaber says before Shaw pleaded guilty, defense attorneys successfully argued that due to a typo in the state regulations, Shaw’s alcohol level was not admissible in court.

"I find it appalling. I really do. If alcohol was permitted to be introduced as evidence, he would've gotten 25 years," he said. “I don’t think there was justice for Catherine.”

Nienaber says right now his prayer is that Shaw doesn't get out of prison early on parole.