Attorney argues judge ‘erroneously exercised his discretion’
STAR JOURNAL REPORT
An attorney representing Ashlee Martinson has filed a legal brief in Oneida County Circuit Court seeking to have her sentence reduced on two counts of second-degree homicide, for which she pleaded guilty last year.
Martinson, 19, is now serving a 23-year prison sentence in the Taycheedah Correctional Institution that was imposed June 10, 2016, for the March 7, 2015, deaths of her 37-year-old step-father, Thomas Ayers, who was shot twice with a 12-gauge shotgun, and her 40-year-old mother, Jennifer Ayers, who was stabbed more than 30 times, in their town of Piehl home.
In the motion for a sentence modification, Mark A. Schoefeldt argues that Judge Michael H. Bloom “erroneous exercised his discretion where, as here, the court erroneously placed on the defendant an obligation to perceive and make rational choices at a time when, as a matter of law, she was incapable of perceiving and making rational choices.”
Schoefeldt further argues in the legal brief that because Martinson, who was 17 when the homicides occurred, had a history of abuse, “the court erred in improperly assigning her to the duty to act in the same fashion and with the same knowledge of options that a 17-year old who had not been abused and isolated for her entire life would have had.
“The defendant was not a ‘normal’ 17-year old. The defendant was, as a result, incapable of assessing the situation in the same way that a ‘normal’ 17-year old would have done. The actual choice that the defendant believed that she had, at the moment of this incident, was whether to kill herself as she initially had planned or whether to kill Thomas Ayers.”
Schoefeldt also takes issue with a statement Bloom made upon sentencing Martinson that she “had a choice” not to kill Thomas and Jennifer Ayers, because the judge had applied the defense of “adequate provocation” in this case, which “requires that there be a complete loss of self-control.”
“Almost by definition, someone who has completely lost self-control has also lost the ability to rationally consider his or her options (and has) lost the ability to make choices,” Schoefeldt argues. “The court therefore erroneously placed on the defendant the obligation to perceive and make rational choices at a time when, as a matter of law, she was incapable of perceiving and making rational choices. In doing so, the court erroneously exercised its discretion, entitling her to modification of the sentence.”
A motion hearing before Bloom to consider modifying the sentence is set for Sept. 13 at 10 a.m.