Marshall Stone to be sentenced on murder charge Oct. 15
By Diane spoor
Justice Monica Bast will decide the fate of 47-year-old Marshall Stone on Oct. 15.
Stone pleaded guilty to one charge of second degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Ashley Ames and one count of unlawfully discharging a firearm with the intent to maim, wound or harm against Ames’ sister, and Stone’s common-law partner, Alexis Ames.
The Crown and defence lawyers laid out their sentencing submissions in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Red Deer on Tuesday, Oct. 5.
Crown prosecutor Greg Gordon told Justice Bast the Crown is asking for the minimum sentence of life in prison on the charge of second degree murder. Minimum parole eligibility for second degree murder is 10 years but Gordon is seeking 15 years. Gordon also asked the judge to sentence Stone to four years, to be served concurrently, for the second charge of unlawfully discharging a firearm with the intent to wound, as well as lifetime firearms and weapons bans and a DNA order.
Defence lawyer Walter Raponi asked the justice to consider parole eligibility at 12 years.
The agreed statement of facts was read into the record during sentencing submissions on Oct. 5.
The facts state that on July 26, 2019, Stone got into a verbal argument with Alexis Ames, his partner. Ames, Stone and their two children lived in a townhome in Rocky Mountain House with Ames’ sister, and her son. At one point during the argument Stone went downstairs to the bedroom he and Alexis shared and retrieved a 22-calibre rifle. He returned to the kitchen where both Alexis and her sister, Ashley, were talking.
The agreed statement goes on to say Stone then pointed the rifle at Alexis. Alexis managed to deflect the gun upwards. Stone then reloaded and discharged the firearm towards Alexis again. But Ashley stepped between them and Stone shot her in the eye. While Alexis fled outside, Stone reloaded the rifle and shot Ashley a second time. This second head shot was instantly fatal.
The children, aged four, seven, and 10 were in the living room, adjacent to the kitchen, at the time of the first two shots.
After the shooting, Stone left the home and called his friend, telling him he had killed Ashley. The friend told him to meet him at the RCMP detachment and turn himself in. Less than an hour after the initial argument between Stone and Alexis, RCMP took Stone into custody. Stone said at the time of his arrest he had very little memory of the incident.
Crown prosecutor Gordon said Stone suffers from an alcohol abuse disorder but said while there may be a link between that diagnosis and Stone’s out of character behaviour that night, the law in Alberta is very clear that self-induced intoxication is not a mitigating factor in sentencing.
“It may provide a foundation for Mr. Stone’s ostensibly out of character display of violence towards both Alexis and Ashley Ames, but it does not mitigate that behaviour nor does it diminish his overall level of moral blame worthiness,” he said.
Gordon said Stone admitted to intentionally killing Ashley by deliberately shooting her in the head twice. Gordon said the nature of this offense is both grave and egregious.
Gordon said the circumstances around Ashley’s death “attract a high degree of moral culpability.”
Gordon also said the killing of Ashley was not an impulsive act and that Stone intentionally retrieved the rifle from the basement and intentionally pointed the rifle at Alexis and at Ashley. Gordon stated an impulsive act would be more “akin to having already had the rifle either at hand or close at hand and then used it in the heat of the moment. He was in the middle of an argument with Alexis Ames and he chose to go to the basement. He chose to get a rifle. He then returned and discharged that rifle. He then reloaded it and discharged it again…”
Gordon went on to say that Stone’s actions did not end there. Stone then struggled with Alexis, causing a head wound to Alexis in the process. After Alexis escaped, he then returned to Ashley and shot her again. “There is nothing impulsive about the acts and that act specifically,” said Gordon.
Defense counsel Walter Raponi said in deciding between 12 or 15 years for parole eligibility that “there is no number that will make things right. That will put things back to July of 2019. Mr. Stone wishes it could be done. But he knows it cannot.”
Raponi said he does not agree with the Crown’s position that the event was pre-planned.
“There is no evidence of that. In fact all the information before the court is that it was an impulsive situation that occurred in the spur of the moment.” Raponi said he is seeking 12 years as it is elevated from the mandatory minimum of 10 years. “12 years would be appropriate because this does deserve a bump up from the minimum of 10 due to the domestic nature of it, due to the aggravating feature of the use of a firearm and the fact there were children in the home at the time.”
But Raponi said Stone should be given credit for his guilty plea, meaning that no witnesses were required to testify.
In a report prepared by a psychologist Stone said “he takes full responsibility for his actions and expresses remorse to both the victims and the children who witnessed the event.” In the report Stone called it “a horrific thing and very overwhelming.” Stone also told the psychologist that he regrets killing Ashley. “She was my best friend and co-worker. I was there for the birth of her son. We were like brother and sister.” When asked about Alexis, Stone told the psychologist, “I miss her. I love her. I wish it had never happened.”
Justice Bast asked Stone if he had anything to say. Stone said, “As far as Alexis goes I am very sorry for even having to be here today. That is one thing I never would have wished on anybody else that’s for sure. I am very apologetic to my family for putting them through all the stresses and mayhems. And all the dealings we have had to go through in light of me being incarcerated. And the difficulties of me being incarcerated. And it makes it harder on us. But it is what it is and it’s my doing why we are here today and why we have to be here.”
Justice Bast will hand down her decision on Oct. 15.