By The Examiner staff

An Independence woman reached a plea agreement Thursday in the 2010 beating death of her husband.

Catherine Ashworth, 53, was originally charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of her husband, Ronnie Ashworth, 63, in August 2010. As part of a plea agreement, she pleaded guilty Thursday to voluntary manslaughter.

Jackson County prosecutors agreed, as part of the agreement, that Ashworth would receive a sentence of no more than 10 years in prison and that the armed criminal action charge be dropped. Ashworth will be formally sentenced on Jan. 9 in Jackson County court.

According to court documents, Catherine contacted a local funeral home on Aug. 22, 2010, and notified it that her husband had died after he fell down the stairs at their home in the 18000 block of Blackhawk Trail in northeast Independence.

She told the owners they had been drinking the night before and that he had passed out.

After she was advised to call the police, detectives found her husband’s body in the rear of their garage. Police estimated he had been dead for 24 to 36 hours. The Jackson County Medical Examiner later determined that Ronnie had died from blunt force trauma to the head.

The victim’s head had bled, and there were several cleaning supplies in the garage, as well as in the home, according to court documents. Detectives found blood splatter five feet high on both a door and its frame.

Catherine later told her parents, two days following his death, that he had died of a heart attack and that they had been fighting and she “just snapped.” Six weeks following his death, Catherine told employees at Sterling Bowl that his death “was a stupid, drunk moment.”

Catherine was questioned by police two days following her husband’s death and released.

Court documents show a turbulent relationship. The couple divorced in May 1992 but later remarried. Two days prior to the husband’s death, witnesses told police that they had fought at a local Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge. Catherine was upset over suspected infidelities. At one point, according to documents, she told him that “she wasn’t finished yet.”

Another witness told police that he had seen her choking her husband outside the business.