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Ash Gets 22-Years-to-Life for Murder of Girlfriend, Former Wife

Ralph Ash was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 22 years for the murder of his girlfriend and former wife.

His week-long trial began Jan. 11. The jury heard closing arguments Friday and later returned a guilty verdict in the murder of Tracy Heskett of Lewisville.

Ash also was convicted of abuse of a corpse and possessing weapons under disability.

He was sentenced to 15 years to life for the murder, with three years added for a firearm specification. A sentence of one year was imposed for the abuse of a corpse, and three years for weapons under disability.

Heskett vanished on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2015. A search was launched, and her remains were discovered in a burn barrel on Ash’s property.

During the trial, the jury considered evidence linking Ash to the murder, including Ash’s ownership of several guns matching the caliber of bullet recovered from the remains and blood on a hatchet and a hacksaw found in Ash’s home. The prosecution also said Ash’s actions during the investigation were suspicious. The defense argued the evidence was ambiguous and could not positively tie Ash to the crime.

Ash had a prior conviction for a violent offense in Tyler County, which prohibited him from owning firearms. In total, 11 firearms and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition were recovered from his home after police executed a search warrant in March.

“I agree with the verdict and applaud the jury,” said Monroe County Prosecutor James Peters, adding that the jurors had a difficult task in weighing the evidence. Peters noted that the case involved circumstantial evidence and said unresolved questions will remain. “The jury looked at the evidence and made the right decision.”

Monroe County Common Pleas Judge Julie R. Selmon cited Ash’s evident lack of remorse and added that consecutive sentences were necessary to protect the public, given the seriousness of the crime.

Ash was taken to jail in Jefferson County and will be transported to the Correctional Reception Center at Orient, Ohio.

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