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Examiner
  • Ashworth sentenced for husband's beating death

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  • An Independence woman was sentenced to eight years in prison for beating her husband to death with a hammer.
    Catherine Ashworth, 53, did not speak during sentencing Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court. She pleaded guilty in November to voluntary manslaughter for killing her husband, 63-year-old Ronnie Ashworth Sr., in August of 2010.
    She said that she hit her husband several times in the head with a hammer after they argued about infidelity.
    Ashworth was originally charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action. In a deal, Jackson County prosecutors dropped the second charge and accepted Ashworth’s plea to manslaughter, agreeing that Ashworth would receive no more than 10 years in prison.
    The background
    Catherine Ashworth 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 back 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.
    The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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