LANCASTER — The Columbia woman convicted in a racially motivated shooting and assault showed no signs of backing down, even as she was ordered to spend the next six years in state prison.
“I’d have shot her if she was white,” Ashley Rose Curry said unrepentantly at her sentencing hearing Tuesday morning. “Race had nothing to do with this.”
In July, Curry was convicted of shooting Jamie Roland outside Musser’s Market in Columbia. Curry testified during the trial, never denying that she hurled racial slurs at the other women involved, also comparing herself to George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. She claimed the shooting was an act of self-defense that occurred during a brawl where she was “outnumbered” and overpowered” by women coming at her “like a pack of wild animals.”
After hours of deliberation, a jury decided Curry was guilty of felony aggravated assault for the shooting, as well as the misdemeanor counts of simple assault and ethnic intimidation for the attack on Alicia Glenn-McCowin.
The diminutive Curry entered the court room Tuesday morning, hair in two French braids, wearing a pale blue prison top and violet bottoms. The look replaced her flowing curls and pants suit at trial. Before the hearing, Curry pantomimed a kiss towards her boyfriend, Steven Smith.
Throughout the hour-long proceeding, Curry was verbally combative with her attorney, Samuel Stretton. She struggled to stay on topic and address the matters at hand, visibly frustrating officials as the sentencing plodded along.
Lancaster County First Assistant District Attorney Christopher Lechner said Curry seems to be wearing the incident as a “badge of honor.” Lechner called the case disturbing and said circumstances clearly show it was racially motivated.
“Even to this day … there’s not one expression of remorse,” Lechner said, noting the difficulty of giving her any benefit of the doubt because of her testimony and stubbornness in showing empathy for the woman she seriously injured.
Stretton tried to seek mercy for his client, noting the good side of Curry that helps people, is involved in her church, and provides for her family. Stretton also pointed to domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband, which led to her carrying a gun and constantly fearing for her life.
“There is a lot we can work with here in spite of this serious charge,” Stretton said, adding that Curry needed help as a survivor of abuse, with anger management, and accepting differences in people.
Smith spoke on Curry’s behalf, arms crossed and in gravelly tones, explaining how much his girlfriend does for him. Smith admitted he and Curry have had relationship issues and filed protection from abuse orders against each other, but he called the filings “a joke.” He added that he didn’t know anyone who doesn’t like Curry and that her reputation with others hasn’t changed after the shooting.
Against Stretton’s advice, Curry attempted to counter Larsen’s portrayal of her character to Lancaster County Judge Merrill Spahn.
“He’s slandering me,” Curry said. She went on to say she didn’t show remorse because it would have been a violation of her Fifth Amendment Rights. Curry then began to rehash the facts of the case, saying the jury didn’t get to hear suppressed information that would have been favorable to her defense.
“Let’s talk about you,” Stretton said, attempting to get his client back on track. “Forget about the facts [of the case.]”
Anecdotally, Curry explained how she once helped a fellow parishioner at her church while he was being treated for cancer. The man, who is black, also had African American and biracial grandchildren who were in her Sunday school class and Curry said she taught them as she would any other child.
Going through her personal history, Curry told Spahn about her three children and how she had to explain to her two daughters — 9 and 12 — what was happening and why she was going to prison. She began to sob when describing how badly her ex-husband beat her and abused her for years.
“There was times I was amazed I lived through [the abuse],” Curry said.
Spahn ordered the sentence, calling Curry’s use of the gun irresponsible and aggressive, and in direct contrast to the Second Amendment Rights he respects.
Curry, who refused to comply with the court’s pre-sentence investigation, was not punished for lack of compliance, but Spahn noted it was hard to take her side into consideration without proper evaluations. In showing no remorse, her behavior and conduct showed irreverence for the victims, Spahn said.
“Your honor, only guilty people show remorse,” Curry said, interrupting Spahn as he read his sentence. “I’m not guilty.”
In addition to the six years and two months in state prison, Curry must pay $100,000 in restitution. Spahn made eligible for counseling, vocational and educational programs. He encouraged the truculent convict to exercise all of her appeal rights going forward.
Stretton who lobbied vainly on his client’s behalf asked Spahn to place her close to her family and for all available resources, which Curry balked as was the theme during the hearing.
“I’d appreciate it if you’d consult with me before asking for psychiatric evaluations, this, that, and the third,” Curry barked at Stretton during the reading of post-sentence rights.
Curry spent another 10 minutes going in circles about her rights, proclaiming her innocence, the faults of public defenders who initially handled her case before Stretton, and her myriad of complaints since the February 2015 shooting.
“I don’t need change … only guilty people show remorse,” Curry said before turning to be escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs. “I love you Stevie. I’ll call you later.”