Who is Ashley Ard? The brutal truth behind the 'most hated woman in Alaska' revealed in new documentary
Ashley's legal battle is now being explored in the new four-part BBC Three documentary series 'Accused: A Mother On Trial'
Ashley Ard became 'the most hated woman in Alaska' after she left her newborn baby girl for dead in a local park, within hours of giving birth to her in her house's bathroom. The horrific incident took place on 15 October 2013, at around 9:30 am. The body of the baby girl was discovered by a man who was walking his dog in a park in a sleepy suburb of Anchorage, Alaska, after which he called 911.
The 24-year-old Virginia resident was charged with second-degree murder and was jailed for 99 years. The members of the Eagle River demanded a death penalty for her crime. Ashley's husband Kennard who had sex with her the week before she gave birth, denied all knowledge of her pregnancy. Throughout the entire legal case which was active for five years, Ashley divorced Kennard and got married again to Byron, from Ohio and gave birth to another child.
Ashley's legal battle is now being explored in the new four-part BBC Three documentary series 'Accused: A Mother On Trial'. She was labeled "manipulative" by the state prosecutors who sought a charge of second-degree murder.
Born in Portsmouth, Virginia, Ashley Ard was first arrested for killing her daughter, before which she never had any legal trouble. She grew up in a religious family and enrolled in the Army after completing her graduation. During her time in the military, she met Kennard, who was a soldier. According to her friends and family, the couple's relationship was unhappy and abusive.
Dee Anne, Ashley's colleague and her closest friend, stated that she had doubts about their relationship from the start after Kennard allegedly cheated on her multiple times. "She would call me in tears because she found clear proof that he was cheating, and she'd be like, 'I'm done', then she wouldn't be done and they'd be back together... then he'd cheat again," she said. "It was like, no one cheats this much... he didn't even care enough to hide it. After she got pregnant, he was just so mean. I would be on the phone with her, and I would hear him in the background yelling, "You're fat, just because you're pregnant doesn't mean you have to eat everything in the house'."
Even though she knew that Kennard was not faithful, she married him in October 2011. After a month, she got pregnant with their first child. At the time when she was due, Kennard was deployed to Afghanistan, his first tour of duty. Ashley admitted that while Kennard was away from home, she had a fling with a man and became pregnant again. She decided to abort the child but later she decided to keep it.
When Kennard returned home, she noticed a change in his behavior and suspected that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as he used to be angry and would jump at loud noises and flashing lights started triggering him. Kennard agreed that he slapped Ashley once, but insisted she was violent towards him. ''She used to grab on me, punch on me, I wouldn't hit her back because that's not me, a man striking a woman, until one night, I was minding my own business, having a drink, she comes outside, got in an argument about something and she slapped me,' he said. 'It was a reflex, I slapped her back. We both agreed, stop with the foolishness, we've got to move on," he said.
Kennard told the police department that he had no idea that she was pregnant, claiming that she "hid it very well." He even confessed that he had sex with her every week, while she was pregnant, and when he questioned her weight gain, she said it was due to fibroids. Ashley's attorney Rex Lamont-Butler believes that she is not guilty of murder, and finds it 'crazy' that Kennard was having regular sex with her and wasn't aware that she was pregnant.
The state offered to reduce Ashley's crime to aggravated manslaughter if she pleaded guilty, which means an instant return to prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years.