If you happened to read the April 22, 2019 Shelby Star front page article titled “Trial Set to Begin,” you would think the District Attorney had a slam-dunk case against 48-year-old Ashley Blanton Sanders for the premeditated beating death murder of her grandmother. Star editor/reporter Diane Turbyfill included all the DA provided information into her report. The DA supposedly had electronic evidence, text and Facebook messages and such that clearly showed 48-year-old Sanders and her 24-year-old boyfriend, Christopher Sizemore, had planned the murder for months before Sizemore actually entered the home of the sleeping grandmother, pulled a pillow over her head and beat her to death. According to the Star, an electronic trail led straight to Sanders and Sizemore and they were arrested only hours after the June 7, 2016 murder. The Star report mentioned several times that all this information came from court documents but never once stated just what these documents were or provided a copy of anything as I usually try to do.
I smelled a rat in all of this-right from the start. For instance; with such a heinous crime as this, the conspiracy and all leading up to a premeditated and senseless murder and all the reported evidence, why did the DA NOT seek the death penalty???
I suspected the DA didn’t have much evidence to start with. They just resorted to their old-time trick of throwing suspects in jail, getting a high bail set and let the suspects cool their heels in jail for years and years, hoping they will crack and plea bargain to anything.
The young boyfriend, Sizemore, did crack in 2017 and plead guilty to a murder charge without a trial and received just life in prison instead of the death penalty. From all appearances (as will be described shortly) part of the apparent plea bargain was for Sizemore to testify against Sanders as the Star witness in her trial. A trial the DA lazily (and stupidly) waited two more years to try.
And, when the DA, Rick Shaffer, in this case, finally gets around to scheduling the trial, Shaffer or somebody in the DA’s office calls the Star and provides all this stuff that indicates the slam-dunk case that it was supposed to be. This was Monday, April 22,2019 according to the Star.
Anyway, my sources report that the trial started and Christopher Sizemore is brought out of prison to testify against his once girlfriend Ashley Blanton Sanders. Sizemore was the star witness but somehow and in some way Sizemore turns the tables on DA Shaffer and testifies that Sanders had no part in the murder of her grandmother. Which, if the DA had all the evidence the Star reported the DA as having, should still have resulted in a conviction.
But no. Ashley Blanton Sanders gets set scot-free after sitting in jail for almost three years without a trial. Leaving DA Rick Shaffer looking like a fool and the High DA Mike Miller looking like a bigger fool.
As Sanders was leaving the courthouse free to go where she pleased, a TV Reporter asked her how she felt about the situation. Sanders replies, “It’s a beautiful Day!” and kept on walking.
But, back in the Courthouse, there are still things going on. Somehow and in some way, there is an altercation with the DA’s star witness, Christopher Sizemore, and Sizemore reportedly slugs a Deputy. The Star has published a foolish article about that too. Now calling Sizemore a “hostile witness” instead of DA Shaffer’s star witness. Now the Star is crediting Assistant DA Sally Kirby-Turner for getting a quick plea bargain deal with Sizemore on a Felony Assault charge. But what does Sizemore care about any extra charges as he is on a life sentence anyway. And why, all of a sudden, is Sally Kirby-Turner involved with Shaffer’s fiasco of a trial. I suppose to cover up for Shaffer. Always a spin on Courthouse news coverage from the Shelby Star. Hey, as I get more reports from sources about all this stuff, if there is anything else, I will let you know.
So, stay tuned. This ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
But, setting this alleged murderess, Ashley Blanton Sanders, free is not the first time the incompetence in the DA’s office has set free a murderess or murderer for that matter.
About ten years ago, Margaret Heller was convicted of the premeditated murder of her boyfriend who was also seeing other women. Heller visited three Shelby Pawnshops in the selection of a handgun she planned to use to kill the gigolo. On the day of the murder, Heller refused to take the gigolo to see the other woman, so he set out on foot. After he had time to walk a good distance on down the road, Heller took her car and her pistol with the intent of intercepting him far enough away from her home so she might not be a suspect. Then she intercepted him, called over to her car and as he peered through the passenger side window, shot and killed him.
But, alas, she was caught, tried and convicted of murder and given a life sentence. Margaret Heller sat there in prison for seven years before some nit-wit judge decided that Heller and other women who killed their husbands or boyfriends deserved to have the opportunity to have an “abuse-excuse” as a defense. And, if not, they were to have a new trial. This applied to Margaret Heller too.
So, Margaret Heller was sent back from prison to Cleveland County for a new trial. Only thing was, the DA’s office had lost all their case files on Heller. Evidence and all. So, Assistant DA Sally Kirby-Turner just dismisses all charges to be done with it. And convicted murderess Margaret Heller is set free without further ado. And, to my knowledge, not a word from the Shelby Star about it.
And then, there was the murder trial of Thurman “Soupie” Price. Or should I say the murder trial that was never tried.
Thurman “Soupie” Price was charged by DA Rick Shaffer for the 40+ year-old murder of a child, Brenda Sue Brown-sexually assaulted and beaten to death with a rock. Only this time and with great fanfare, the Shelby Star plastered this news all over the front-page day after day. Week after week. But years went by and there was no trial. Soupie was out on bond and freely walked the streets of Shelby and Cleveland County until he died of natural causes as an old man. Charged but not tried. IN this world anyway.
And what about Irvin Lucien Fenner, Jr.? The alleged shooter who killed veteran Shelby Police Department Officer Tim Brackeen back in September, 2016. (Only weeks after the grandmother of Ashley Blanton Sanders’ was murdered. But Sanders just got set free as previously noted.). Fenner is still in jail somewhere waiting for his Capital Murder Charge to be tried for the death of Officer Brackeen. You have to wonder, is this District Attorney’s office competent enough to do a murder trial right? Or is it just hit or miss?
Anyway, the DA’s next election is in 2022. Somebody needs to challenge DA Mike Miller and remind people of all the murderers his office has set free because of incompetence. And the Murder trial of Irvin Lucien Fenner, Jr. is likely to happen before 2022. Who knows what will happen there? Fenner is a bad dude and surely must not be set free because of an incompetent DA and his incompetent office.
Stay Tuned folks. We will let you know the ins and outs down at the Courthouse. No matter how hard the Shelby Star tries to cover-up such news as this.