Cook sentenced to life in prison

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SHELBYVILLE - A woman convicted in the shooting death of a former Marshall County man has been sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder, plus 20 years for conspiracy to commit the murder.

Those two terms are to be served at the same time, according to the order issued by Judge Robert Crigler on Monday when Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard said Ashley Mai Cook "should be put away from society forever."

Meanwhile, Cook's defense attorneys said he would file a motion for a new trial. It's to be heard Dec. 22.

Cook was convicted in October for the murder of Bill Ross who was shot three times while he slept in his bed at his Shelbyville-area home on Valentine's Day last year.

Bill and his wife moved there from Lewisburg in 2006. A few years earlier they lived in Cornersville. He was a volunteer firefighter when not working as a car salesman.

His wife, Kimberly Ann Ross, 38, was sentenced to life in prison last November after pleading guilty to first-degree murder for her role in the crime.

Former Marshall County High School student Justin Young has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Young loaded the gun and let Cook enter the home to shoot Ross in order to make the death look like part of a home invasion.

Crigler handed down the concurrent sentences after hearing arguments from Barnard and Assistant Public Defender Jack Dearing.

Cook was on probation when she shot Ross, Barnard pointed out with testimony from probation officer Laura Prosser. Cook had misdemeanor theft and two probation violations.

"This was a terrible ... uncalled-for murder," Barnard said. Cook could have "backed out" of the crime but did not.

She took God's place by taking Ross' life and there was no reason for the murder, Barnard said, adding that Kimberly could have divorced Bill Ross or filed charges against him for the alleged abuse. It was among excuses for the murder plot.

But the defense attorney argued that Kimberly Ross was the mastermind behind the crime and put blame on Young for his role. Dearing said the judge should put little weight on Cook's prior convictions and that the sentences should be fair.

In response, Crigler noted that Cook tried to frame two men for the crime and if it wasn't for good police work, two innocent men might have gone to prison for life.

"That would have been a terrible miscarriage of justice," Crigler said.