ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Former U.S. Army specialist Ashley Ard was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years, three suspended - leaving nine years to serve - behind bars for the death of an infant child. The baby girl, daughter of the accused, was found in an Eagle River park nearly five years ago just hours after Ard delivered her in her own home.
Ard, who was 24 years old at the time of her daughter's death, had been in Alaska for about a month when the baby came in October of 2013. She was stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in September of that year.
Court statements allege Ard delivered the baby in her home, loaded to infant into her car, and intentionally abandoned her in the park on a frozen autumn night. The intent stopped there, though, according to Ard, who said Wednesday she never meant for anything bad to happen.
"I would like you to know that Parker losing her life was not intentional," a handcuffed Ard told the court Wednesday, tears streaming down her face. "I sincerely regret what has happened. I think about her every single day, and she will forever be in my heart."
It was with help from a passerby - who was walking his dog and heard the cries of the child sometime after midnight on the October evening - that police found the abandoned infant, wrapped in a towel and not breathing. The little girl's body was hidden under brush and additionally concealed by a transformer-like object in Turner Park.
"The man had his dog on a leash," said an Anchorage Police Dept. investigator shortly after the discovery of the baby's body. "The dog did go over and investigate that area where the blanket was. So he pulled the dog away and removed the blanket, and then found the body."
Shortly after that, Ard was indicted by Grand Jury on first-degree murder charges.
Fast forward four-and-a-half years, and Ard - who is from Virginia and came to Alaska specifically for her stationing at JBER - awaited her sentence from Anchorage Superior Court Judge Kevin Saxby. She'd pleaded guilty in 2017 in exchange for the Murder 2 charge being lessened to a charge of manslaughter.
“This is a sad case, a tragic situation. There’s a baby that isn’t four-and-a-half years old right now,” said the Office of Special Prosecutions’ Jenna Gruenstein. Gruenstein, in court Wednesday, recommended 20 years with five years suspended.
Ard's defense, on the other hand, Attorney Rex Butler, requested the minimum sentence.
But Judge Saxby ended up sentencing Ard to more of a middle-ground range: 12 years, with three suspended, meaning nine to serve. Saxby noted that should Ard receive good time credit, her sentence could be shortened further.