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Jury trial postponed until Wednesday in Dixon murder case from last year
DIXON, Mo. (May 17, 2010) — A three-day jury trial scheduled to begin Monday on a Dixon murder case has been postponed until Wednesday.

Pulaski County Prosecutor Deborah Hooper has been attempting to gain permission to use a tape-recorded confession made by Ashley N. Gilbert, 19, of Dixon, who is accused of kicking and beating a Dixon man to death last year.

Both Gilbert and her co-defendant, Robert Fortner, 31, also of Dixon, have pleaded innocent to a Class A felony charge of second-degree murder accusing them of acting in concert with another with the purpose of causing serious physical injury to David A. Blankenship on May 10 and causing his death by repeatedly striking him with their hands and feet. The penalty for a Class A felony is either 10 to 30 years or life in prison, depending on circumstances.

In Gilbert’s case, she’s claiming a defense of “mental disease or defect excluding responsibility” for her actions and was evaluated by Fulton State Hospital personnel in October. While Gilbert has no prior criminal record according to electronic court filings, Fortner had been on probation for a driving-while-intoxicated Class B misdemeanor conviction on April 7, 2009, just five weeks before he was accused of killing Blankenship. Fortner’s probation was revoked on Aug. 8 and was ordered to serve a 180-day sentence in the Pulaski County Jail, with credit for time served since he was arrested.

On Monday morning, Associate Circuit Judge John Wiggins from Phelps County listened to an audiotape of Gilbert’s confession and granted a motion from her attorney to suppress the confession beyond the 25th page of the transcript and also to provide Gilbert’s attorney with copies of any statement obtained from Fortner.

The case will continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to court records.

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