South Sound News

Tacoma man who beat pregnant wife to death sentenced to prison after pleading guilty

TACOMA, Wash. — A man who beat his pregnant wife to death at their home last year after taking methamphetamine was sentenced to prison Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court.

Ian Sweeney, 32, was sentenced to 16 years, five months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his wife, 27-year-old Stephanie Chaipis. The sentence within the standard sentencing range.

Chaipis suffered head trauma and a possible skull fracture during the Jan. 10, 2021 attack at the couple’s home in the 5600 block of South Park Avenue. The woman was placed on life support and died a week later. Court records say Chaipis was about eight weeks pregnant.

Prosecutors had requested that Sweeney receive a sentence of 14 years, 5 months in prison. In victim impact statements submitted to the court, friends and family of Chaipis said that wasn’t enough.

Debra Mattson said she raised Chaipis as a daughter alongside her own after Chaipis’ mother died. Mattson asked for the maximum sentence for Sweeney.

“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,” Mattson wrote. “A leopard doesn’t change his spots.”

In his guilty plea submitted to the court, Sweeney admitted to intentionally assaulting Chaipis.

Sweeney began admitting to attacking his wife of 10 years when Tacoma Police Department officers first arrived at the couple’s home around 7:30 p.m. the day of the attack. According to court records, Chaipis was unconscious with only a slight pulse, and Sweeney said, “It’s my fault,” several times.

He told police he had used methamphetamine twice that day, and around 10 or 11 a.m., he began questioning his wife’s “devotion and commitment” to him, and the two started arguing.

While the couple’s four children were in another room, Sweeney pushed Chaipis into a wall where she hit her head. He then repeatedly slapped her until she had a bloody nose, he told police. He also punched her in the chest, arms, thighs and knees.

Police asked Sweeney how many times he hit her. “A lot, a lot,” he told them.

When she became dizzy and disoriented, Sweeney searched online for information about the side effects of head trauma but did not call 911.

Sweeney told police he didn’t call for help until hours later because Chaipis appeared to be more alert around 4 p.m. Two hours later, he noticed that she wasn’t breathing, and at some point he called for help.

Chaipis was taken to Tacoma General Hospital. Staff told police she was brain dead and had bruises all over her body. After she died, an autopsy found Chaipis’ cause of death was blunt force trauma.

In a victim impact statement, a childhood friend of Chaipis, Charlotte Droescher, described her as a person with “boundless passion and enthusiasm.” She called Chaipis her closest friend for more than a decade.

“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,” the friend 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.”