DOUBLE SPRINGS - Ashley Brooke Fields, 26, of Arley, who was found guilty of murder/felony murder at the end of her 10-day murder trial, Aug. 10, was sentenced Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 12, by Circuit Judge Lee Carter to 25 years in the state penitentiary.
The sentence was rendered in a hearing which began at 1 p.m. at the Winston County Courthouse.
Fields was found guilty in the death of her 6-month-old daughter Adalyn Marie Fields, who had suffered, according to medical experts testifying in the trial, obvious signs of physical abuse from being violently shaken.
Judge Carter rendered the sentence against Fields after asking her to stand. Fields had been seated between the attorneys of her defense team Michelle Mauldin and Jim Mason.
Before rendering the sentence, Carter asked the defendant if she had anything she wished to say.
“I maintain my innocence the whole time,” Fields said in a broken voice, wearing a brown inmate uniform. “I’d never hurt my children. I love them so much. I’d never do this.”
After both the defense and prosecution had been presented the pre-sentence narrative of the trial, Michelle Mauldin, attorney with the defense team, spoke out, citing several objections.
“The probation officer took the narrative straight from the DA,” Mauldin said. “Some of that stuff was not testified to in court and it’s just his version of the event.”
Before Judge Carter, Mauldin said, “We do have issues with it we’d like to address.”
In the narrative, Eddie Allan Ogles, who was the boyfriend of the defendant at the time of Adalyn's death, was listed as having his case dismissed Aug. 13, 2018, which was three days after Fields was found guilty, Mauldin claimed.
Ogles, Mauldin indicated citing the district attorney, pleaded a full year before to a lesser charge of hindering federal prosecution. Ogles had initially been charged with capital murder along with Fields, but pleaded to the lesser charge and agreed to testify against her in her trial.
“Now if it wasn’t dismissed until 8-13, that made him a co-defendant. We could have asked different questions, which were denied us,” Mauldin stated.
The defense team was disappointed in the sentencing of 25 years. “As I have stated before, we maintained her innocence all the way through. She is not guilty. She did not abuse her children. She didn’t harm her child. She didn’t kill her child.
“She was there. Another party was there. We maintained her innocence when she was arrested through this whole process, through this trial, and we still maintain her innocence,” Mauldin pointed out.
Although the defense team was relieved that Fields’ sentence was not life in prison, they claimed that this is just one step of a long process yet ahead in hopes of having the case retried, according to the defense team.
The defense plans to file within the next 30 days a motion for a new trial,which will either be granted or denied by Judge Carter, Mauldin said.
If the judge denies, then the defense will seek to appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals in Montgomery, Mauldin added.
Mason echoed Mauldin’s disappointment in Judge Carter’s sentence.
“We were hoping for much less and maybe even a probationary sentence,” said Mason.
Mason said Fields has 42 days to file a motion of appeal and 30 days to file for a new trial attacking what she perceives to be errors in the case.
“We anticipate we are going to file a new trial motion on her behalf,” he said.
“There are still several months in this case before it actually goes to the appeals process,” Mason assured.
Prosecuting District Attorney Neal Cook, who was on the state team along with Rachel Smith, noted he had requested a sentence of 80 years and eight months (the remainder of Adalyn’s life expectancy).
“The 25 year sentence given by Judge Carter does remove 25 years from the freedom of the defendant,” Cook pointed out.
“No sentence to be served by the defendant can bring back the life of Adalyn Fields,” Cook added. “However, it is my hope that today’s sentence will bear a message to all that your actions must bear consequences.
“It is my further hope that all parents and caregivers will stop and reflect before they respond to the crying of their child,” Cook noted.
“I highly recommend that young parents check out the resources provided by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome on its website.” He listed the website as dontshake.org.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.