Ard sentenced to 12 years for infant daughter's death
Ashley Ard, 28, was sentenced to 12 years in prison with three years stayed and five years probation for the death of her infant daughter in 2013.
Ard issued an emotional apology to Judge Kevin Saxby saying she sincerely regrets what happened.
"I think about her every single day," Ard said. "She will forever be in my heart."
Ard had a half-dozen supporters in the courtroom, some of which spoke on her behalf asking the judge to give her a second chance at life.
"This young lady has great potential," Ashley's mentor Daisy Woko said. "She was assigned to mentor other youth in our church. She has made great improvements and I am standing here today to appeal to you and everybody else, involved in this case to please give her a second chance."
The state prosecutor, on the other hand, did not see the scenario in the same light. The state says Ard lied throughout the process and deflected blame knowing full well what her intent was. Because of this, the state asked for the maximum penalty of 20 years with five years stayed.
"It's almost impossible to imagine a victim that was more vulnerable," Assistant Attorney General Jenna Gruenstein said. "Even a 6-month-old, left outside would have more natural defenses to that cold than this child did. This child literally went within the span of about an hour, from the womb to a cold windy October night and all she was wrapped in was a single towel. You don't find somebody more vulnerable."
Judge Kevin Saxby, after hearing from both sides, gave his thoughts on the findings.
"The events of this crime are very puzzling to me," Judge Saxby said. "Miss Ard, you gave birth to a little girl, cleaned her up and wrapped her and tried to nurse her. Then you drove her out and abandoned her on a cold Alaska autumn night. You said you hoped the baby would be found and have said that for a long time to many people, your actions were directly contrary. The child was not left in a place where she was likely to be found. She was put behind some objects including a bush. She was off the sidewalk and tragically has been noted, one gentleman actually heard her cries within an hour or 40 minutes after you left her. He looked and couldn't find her."
The scenario, as read by Judge Saxby, played out like this: Ard was pregnant by another man; kept the pregnancy a secret from everyone in fear of losing her marriage and her job. Ard gave birth to another man's child in her bathtub on October 4, 2013 in the evening. Her husband was away picking up relatives at the airport when she gave birth to the baby girl. Ard cleaned the baby, wrapped it in a towel and took her out to her car. She says she tried briefly to nurse the baby but then she began to drive around Eagle River. Shortly, thereafter, she abandoned her baby in a park (Turner Park), near a bush. The child was found dead the next morning by a man out walking his dog. Miss Ard lied to her husband about the cause of blood in their bedroom and in the bathroom. She kept silent about the child. She continued to bleed and eventually, the situation was so dire that she checked herself into the ER the next day.
Ard's attorneys hired two mental health evaluators as did the court. The claim is that Ard suffered from peripartum depression or postpartum depression and was not in her right mind at the time. The reports were inconclusive. After weighing all the facts and hearing all the testimonies, Judge Saxby ordered Ashley Ard to 12 years in prison with three years stayed. With good behavior, Ard can be out of prison in six years.
"I know that I am going to be the best mother, wife, sister and niece that I can be," Ard said. "I can sit here and promise you that I will not be returning to jail."
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