Valentine's Day murder trial underway

Monday, July 14, 2008

SHELBYVILLE -- Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of Ashley Cook, charged in the 2007 Valentine's Day slaying of Shelbyville car salesman Bill Ross.

Ross and his wife, Kimberly who's pleaded guilty in the crime, were Lewisburg residents before moving to Shelbyville. Before that, they lived in Cornersville.

Opening arguments are scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Monday in the Bedford County Courthouse, District Attorney Chuck Crawford said.

Ross was shot three times while he slept in his bed at his Wartrace Pike home on Feb. 14, 2007. His wife, 38-year-old Kimberly Ann Ross, was sentenced to life in prison last November after pleading guilty of first-degree murder for her role in planning the slaying.

Cook is alleged to have pulled the trigger while Justin Young, 20, previously of Lewisburg, allegedly loaded the gun and held a ladder for Cook to shoot Ross through a window in order make the death look like part of a home invasion, Crawford said last year.

Kimberly Ross provided the gun for the slaying, he said.

Young and the widow were left loosely bound so a 911 call could be made, Crawford said following Ross' sentencing, adding that authorities only accepted the ruse for a brief time. All three were in custody by the end of Feb. 14, the day of the crime.

Crawford explained after the November sentencing that Kimberly Ross planned to take Young with her to Oklahoma and provide him with a place to live, which substantiated information received from Sheriff Randall Boyce alleging that she had been cheating on Bill Ross.

According to Boyce and documents in Ross' court file, she was engaged to marry Terry Van Aber of Tulsa, Okla., who had apparently wired nearly $250,000 to Kimberly during a nearly three-year period to Western Union and other cash counters in Lewisburg, unaware that Ross was already married.

After Ross's sentencing hearing last year, Crawford said that Kimberly told her co-defendants that Bill "had to go and she couldn't divorce him because she would lose everything."

Kimberly pleaded guilty after Young agreed to testify against her. She will be 89 years old when she's eligible for a parole hearing.

Cook is represented by public defender Jack Dearing.

Marshall Tribune Senior Staff Writer Clint Confehr contributed to this report.