Jamie Taylor/Lakeland Times
Ashlee Martinson. left, entered guilty pleas Friday in Oneida County Circuit Court to two counts of second-degree intentional homicide
Jamie Taylor/Lakeland Times
Ashlee Martinson talks with her attorneys Thomas Wilmouth and Amy Ferguson after her plea hearing Friday morning. She faces up to 80 years in prison when she is sentenced June 17.
Plea agreement takes possible life sentence off the table
Originally charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, Ashlee Martinson, 18, faced the possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison without the chance of parole for the deaths of Thomas and Jennifer Ayers at her hands on March 7, 2015.
By accepting the plea agreement her attorneys Thomas Wilmouth and Amy Ferguson worked out with district attorney Michael Schiek and admitting to two counts of second-degree intentional homicide, she has shortened the length of time she could spend behind bars after a judge pronounces sentence June 17.
The maximum sentence possible is 40 years initial confinement in prison followed by 20 years extended supervision on each count. If Oneida County Circuit Judge Michael Bloom orders that sentence to be served consecutively, she would serve 80 years, and would be 97 when released.
But under the terms of the plea agreement, Schiek will not ask that Bloom order the maximum penalty. Instead, he will ask for a "aggregate term of 40 years initial confinement" which is 20 years for each count imposed consecutively.
The defense will argue for a total of eight years initial confinement, which is the maximum amount of time Martinson would be incarcerated if she had been adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent. Further, the defense will ask for extended supervision totaling 30 years.
The agreement also dropped the three counts of false imprisonment stemming from Martinson securing her two stepsisters and half-sister in a bedroom following the homicide.
Bloom is free to sentence Martinson to any length of time in between. It is important to note that he is not bound by the plea agreement and may impose the maximum sentence if he deems it appropriate.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at email@example.com.
3/14/2016 7:30:00 AM Document lays out Martinson's life of abuse Filing states she suffered at the hands of mother's partners since age of 9
When Ashlee A. Martinson shot and killed her stepfather and stabbed her mother over 30 times on March 7, 2015, it came just moments after she considered using the shotgun on herself.
That was one of many revelations into the home life and history of both Martinson and her mother contained in a 26-page attachment filed with her plea paperwork Friday.
The last paragraph of the attachment sums up the problem judge Michael Bloom is faced with on June 17 when he must hand down sentence on her guilty pleas to the two counts of second-degree intentional homicide.
"The defendant turned 17 years old the day prior to the homicides. Had the homicides occurred two (2) days prior, the defendant would have sought to be adjudicated delinquent as a minor rather than convicted as an adult, and by the law placed in a correctional facility for minors only until she reaches 25 years of age, rather than the substantially greater penalty she faces in an adult penal facility," her lawyers Thomas Wilmouth and Amy Ferguson said in the document.
The rest of the attachment spelled out in stark and graphic detail the physical, mental, verbal and sexual abuse Ashlee Martinson suffered at the hands of the abusive romantic partners of her mother, Jennifer Ayers.
Backed by police and court records from Kansas, Colorado and North Dakota, the attachment went into great detail on how Jennifer Ayers was in a series of abusive relationships, and they all took their toll on Ashlee Martinson.
According to the attachment, Jennifer Ayers reported she had been the victim of serial sexual abuse at the hands of her biological father, which was investigated and led to her placement in foster care. She emancipated herself at age 16 and lived independently.
In her Kansas hometown, she married Jeremy Martinson, Ashlee's father, and there are numerous citations of abuse before she received a divorce on Aug. 27, 2004, when Ashlee was 6 years old.
As her marriage to Jeremy Martinson was ending, Jennifer Martinson entered into a romantic relationship with Jerry Hrabe, moving into the trailer the mother and child received from her ex-husband. Hrabe had a long criminal history that included numerous violent encounters with law enforcement. Jennifer Martinson told two people she knew in Hays, Kansas that Hrabe "consistently physically and sexually abused her."
Ashlee Martinson was aware of the abuses, the report said. She would run and hide under the trailer or a nearby bridge when Hrabe's violent temper erupted, which was usually intensified by alcohol. When Ashlee Martinson was 9 years old, a drunken Hrabe raped her, the report says.
In May 2008, with Hrabe nearing the end of a prison sentence, Jennifer Martinson sought to have a restraining order placed against him upon his release. Instead, she allowed Hrabe to move back into their trailer. By July 2009, he was back to beating her, threatening to kill her and also physically abusing Ashlee, the report states.
Eventually, Jennifer Martinson was able to let Hrabe's parole agent know he was drinking in violation of the terms of his parole and he was arrested.
Hrabe denies abusing either Martinson or her mother.
In November 2010, Jennifer Martinson met Thomas Ayers through an online dating service. It was a year after she was finally able to escape from Hrabe, but Ayers had his own extensive arrest record and several wives and former relationships marred by domestic violence in Colorado that were well documented in the attachment.
In March 2011, Jennifer Martinson took Ashlee to visit Ayers in his Bottineau, North Dakota home. Two months later the two moved in with him and his children from previous relationships. They married on Dec. 19, 2011.
Jennifer Ayers cut off contact with her entire family and friends in Kansas with the exception of occasional contact with a sister.
In the attachment, Ashlee Martinson reported the physical and emotional abuse against her mother by Thomas Ayers began shortly after they married. She reported the first incident involved Thomas Ayers flying into a rage. He ripped up the kitchen counter, threw a trash can at the wall, slapped his wife, grabbed her by the throat and pushed her against a wall, Martinson said. Ashlee also told of times her mother would be pushed, smacked, choked and even have a gun held to her head.
"The triggers were if something was not cooked correctly, something was not cleaned or she did not rub his back effectively," the attachment said.
In May 2013, Ashlee Martinson was sent to live with her biological father in Kansas. An artist with a markedly dark artistic perspective, Jeremy Martinson influenced his daughter's own creative nature, according to the attachment.
In December 2013, police were sent to Jeremy Martinson's house and he admitted to slapping his daughter. She also told police she was also the victim of "punching, shoving and kicking."
While he is aware that his daughter killed her mother and stepfather, he has expressed no interest in assisting her or acting as her guardian.
"He expressed only concern about media reports of the case that would cast him in an unfavorable light," the attachment said.
While her mother did not want her back, according to the attachment, Thomas Ayers did.
The family moved to the town of Piehl in the summer of 2014. According to the attachment, Ayers wanted "large and secluded land where he could hunt" despite the fact he was not supposed to own weapons, as a convicted felon.
Ashlee Martinson's three younger sisters all told captain Terri Hook of the Oneida County Sheriff's Department, they all were spanked with a belt to the point they all expressed fear of Ayers. He also ruled the house and its occupants with an iron fist with extreme rules.
The girls could not have any visitors to the house, had to ride together on the school bus, and had to rise early to do chores around the house. At the time the two younger children were interviewed after the homicides, they reported the family had recently purchased two German shepherd puppies. They said they witnessed Thomas Ayers physically abuse the dog by choking it, throwing it around. Eventually, he killed the puppy in front of them.
Ashlee Martinson told Hook she witnessed all of the abuse of the people and animals in the home at the hands of Thomas Ayers. She also said her mother would often join in the physical abuse. She added that while she was on the end of mental and verbal abuse at the hands of her stepfather, he did not sexually assault her.
While her rules were less strict than her younger sisters' directives, she still could not have anyone visit, was only allowed one social visit out of the house a week, had to account for her whereabouts at all times and had to turn over whatever she earned at her job to her stepfather.
In the days leading up to March 7, 2015, Ashlee Martinson was preparing to move out of the house and in with a friend.
The day before the homicides was her 17th birthday, and she sent her boyfriend Ryan Sisco a Facebook message saying "I woke up this morning to my step(-)dad beating my mom... I can't take that (expletive) anymore, he's gonna kill her if she doesn't leave soon and I don't wanna be around w[h]en that happens ... I want to kill him so (expletive) bad, just take one of his guns and blow his (expletive) out."
On the morning of March 7, 2015, Thomas and Jennifer Ayers confronted Ashlee about her relationship with Sisco, who was 22. She was forbidden from contacting him again and she had to give up her cellphone and keys, according to the document. Her mother said Ashlee should leave the house, but Thomas said she should be homeschooled, basically serve the next year under house arrest.
Ashlee grabbed some belongings and walked to a neighbor's house, but Thomas Ayers followed her and took her home.
"According to the defendant, when they arrived home, she went to her bedroom. For the purpose of killing herself, she armed herself with one of the many loaded shotguns lying around the house," the attachment said.
Thomas Ayers came in the house, went upstairs, and started banging on Martinson's bedroom door.
"According to the defendant, she at that time considered whether Thomas Ayers should die rather than she," the attachment said.
One of the younger girls reported hearing two gunshots. The first struck Thomas Ayers in the neck.
"The second shot was a contact wound to his temple," the attachment said. "The defendant indicates that second shot was fired to ensure that he was dead and could not hurt her."
When Jennifer Ayers came upstairs, the attachment said that instead of getting the comfort she expected from her mother, Martinson faced being yelled at by her as she tended to Thomas.
Martinson said her mother grabbed a knife and came at her, and a struggle ensued. She took the knife from her and stabbed her more than 30 times.
"The defendant acted upon provocation premised upon the reasonable belief in the conduct of Thomas Ayers and Jennifer Ayers, completely losing control at the time of the commission of the homicides, demonstrating anger, rage and exasperation as a person of ordinary intelligence and prudence under similar circumstances would have done," the attachment said.
Martinson was evaluated by doctors Brad E.R. Smith and Sheryl Dolezal who both diagnosed her as suffering from major depressive disorder as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. They concluded she had likely been suffering some level of depression symptoms off and on since about age 8, which became noticeably more intense at around 15.
"The doctors believe the defendant has been the victim of many types of abuse and trauma," the attachment said. "She has personally experienced physical, sexual and verbal abuse. She has also directly witnessed the physical, sexual and verbal abuse of her mother and physical and verbal abuse of her stepsisters and her half-sister.
She has also witnessed the severe abuse of animals by Thomas Ayers."
The decision facing Bloom is how to punish Martinson for ending the cycle of abuse she had endured her entire, then 17-year-old life.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jtaylor@lakelandtimes .com.
Posted: Thursday, March 16, 2017
Article comment by:
Every time I read articles about this story my heart breaks... for Ashlee. NO child should have ever endured all that she has. She has no idea what a normal good life a child should have. As murder is never ok for any reason, how can anyone even question her motives for this? Even receiving the abuse from her own mother and not keeping her daughter protected from abusive men ... SICK. I hope someday Ashlee can live a peaceful, happy, life and be with people who are loving and compassionate. No child should have been through any of what she had. My heart breaks for her.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Article comment by:
This poor girl..she has been wanting that man dead since she was a little girl, the cycle of abuse doesn't stop until something serious actually happens. The cops are called, someone goes to jail for a night, and comes right back home like nothing happened. This poor poor girl, wow. Let her go.
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Article comment by:
OMG I have followed this story from the beginning.. How can the DA even begin to press charges. Ashley has suffered enough in her life and certainly been punished long enough by the hands of her Mother and so called male men. Who would put their children through that. I pray Judge Bloom does the right thing and let her finely have a great life. As you read this article I hope all see that this was child abuse and self defence.
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