Accused teenage murderer faces additional charge of damaging jail
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Thursday, May 20, 2010 11:58 pm
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (May 20, 2010) — Murder isn’t the only crime charge faced by Ashley Gilbert.
Gilbert, 18, of Dixon, had been scheduled to go to a jury trial Monday on a Class A felony charge of first degree murder accusing her of killing David A. Blankenship on May 10 of last year and causing his death by repeatedly striking him with her hands and feet. That case was initially postponed until Wednesday after her co-defendant and ex-boyfriend, Robert Fortner, 31, also of Dixon, entered a plea agreement on Monday.
On Wednesday, Associate Circuit Judge John Wiggins granted a request by Gilbert’s attorney, John Beger, and Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Deborah Hooper to move the case to Phelps County because of extensive pretrial publicity in both the Waynesville Daily Guide and Pulaski County Daily News; due to trial schedules, Wiggins said he doesn’t expect the case to be heard for at least another week and probably not until the first week of June.
However, a review of Pulaski County court records shows that the murder won’t be the only item on the docket for Gilbert.
She’s scheduled for an initial arraignment on May 28 — next week Friday — before Pulaski County Associate Circuit Judge Colin Long on a Class D felony charge of damaging jail property.
As with the murder accusation, Gilbert is accused in court documents of causing the damage with her bare hands.
The jail damage charge, which carries a standard penalty of two to four years in state prison or a special term of up to one year in a county jail plus a $5,000 fine, accuses her of punching out a cell window with her fists on Aug. 26, causing the window to shatter.
Hooper filed the charge last month in a document signed with a handwritten date of April 9 but reported in online court records as being filed on April 14. It’s not clear why the charge wasn’t filed for nearly eight months after the offense.
The probable cause statement in Gilbert’s case was filed by a sheriff’s deputy on Oct. 14. That deputy reported that Gilbert had become violent on Aug. 26 after being placed on a lockdown for 24 hours. By 9:20 p.m., on that August night, she started to “become irate and started to yell profanities.” Gilbert was placed back into a jail cell and struck the window “with her hand causing the glass to shatter.”
St. Robert Glass estimated the jail window repair cost at $238.19.