Jury finds Fletcher guilty on both counts


By Meladi Brewer


GREENVILLE — After four hours of deliberations, Ashlee Fletcher was found guilty for tampering with evidence, a felony of the third degree and guilty of abuse of a corpse, a felony of the fifth degree. Judge Travis L. Fliehman presided.

Both the state and defense rested their cases and began closing arguments on Friday morning. Deborah Quigley, with the state, advised the jury that Fletcher aided and abetted Baker, and together, they had attempted to cover up Baker’s murder.

Quigley relayed the time-frame of Baker and Fletcher being seen together at her house and when the subjects were seen at the burial site. It was testified the victim had been presumed murdered on the night of Aug. 7 through Aug. 8. On Aug 9, two people walked up to Fletcher’s porch, and around 1 a.m. the same two people left.

“The next time we see something. We see two people out at the workplace. It is around 3:25 a.m.,” Quigley said.

She advised there were two people going into the barns where the victim’s body was. The state contends that the testimony and evidence show it is Fletcher and Baker. They leave around 5:23 a.m., and video shoes Fletcher’s vehicle pulling in front of her residence a half hour later.

“Fletcher eventually gets out of her Kia, she’s carrying bags into her house, and Baker doesn’t go to work that day. They worked hard all night, so they stayed there,” Quigley said.

Around 4 p.m., Baker left Fletcher’s house in his work clothes. He texted her from his wife’s phone saying “it’s a rest night. Thought of you. Don’t reply” before later showing back up to her place again once his wife went to work.

“Of course it is. They were busy that night before. It’s a rest night,” Quigley said.

Once Baker’s wife left for work, he went and stayed with Fletcher, and Baker did not go to work the next day on Aug. 10. Aug. 11 there is movement at Fletcher’s where someone is walked from her house with a light. Shortly thereafter, there is movement at the burial site again where two subjects are moving in and out of the barns.

Quigley said we know it is two subjects because there was not a lot of time from when Baker’s wife left for work at 1 a.m., Baker showed up at Fletcher’s house shortly after, and two subjects arrived at the burial sign to prep, move, bury the body before workers showed up around 5 a.m. There were also two shovels that were later found hidden in Baker’s work space.

Evidence showed that at 4 a.m., when the state believes the grave had been dug, there was a rag that was placed over the main security camera that would have shown the transport of the body to the grave. A different angle showed movement in and out of the barn, but Baker’s work truck obstructed the view. At 5:51 a.m. when workers started to show up, the rag was removed, and the two subjects left.

Quigley pointed out that when asked about the carpet cleaner, Fletcher had lied and given different stories about why she needed it and where she used it. Not only did the state point out she changed her story, it was testified the area she said she cleaned was observed to be dirty.

On Aug. 20, officers searched Fletcher’s house and found the victim’s backpack “hidden, stuffed under the house,” and the next time anyone sees Fletcher, who was not present during the search, was on Aug. 21. She had walked up to her neighbor with her hood up “trying to hide who she is” and asked her neighbor to go into her house for her.

After her neighbor says no, Fletcher could be seen walking the tree line with a book-bag believed to be found in her KIA. From there Fletcher and Baker were found heading south, and they were arrested in Florida.

“We know people are begging her to come back, and her response is there is no coming back from this,” Quigley said. “Because she knows what she’s involved in.”

Quigley pointed out the shoe print found on the scene was not a match to the type of shoe Fletcher owns, but it is the same size as well. Her DNA was also found on a cigarette that had been found in the barn where the victim’s body had been stored.

“This case is what Baker and Fletcher did after Baker murdered the victim. This is about after and what they did to attempt to cover it up, and they got away with it for almost 10 days,” Quigley said.

Quigley said no one was the wiser until Baker talked to his friend and wrote the note that opened the investigation.

“And when it opens up, the flood gates open, and Fletcher is sucked in because she is absolutely involved with the tampering of evidence and abuse of the corpse,” Quigley said.

Defense Attorney David Rohrer in his closing statements advised the jury to look back on the testimonies. He said that despite how any of them felt about the situation, Baker’s wife, Fletcher’s neighbors, and her husband all never said one bad thing about her. He also advised that Capt. Shawn Trissel may have testified to the shovels being in the office, but he said other than them being there, they were not brought into the courtroom as physical evidence.

A key part of the evidence in Rohrer’s opinion was the note Baker gave to his female friend admitting he killed one of his best friends. He posed the question: what did Baker tell Fletcher about the shooting of the victim?

“We do not know. We don’t know. We don’t know if he told her it was self defense. We do know Fletcher continued to stay in this,” Rohrer said.

He said as Quigley stated, Fletcher did not have anything to do with the murder itself. He said if there were evidence putting her around it, she would be charged.

“Because she is being charged by guilt of association,” Rohrer said.

He said that it is a case of be careful who you hang around with because if they get in trouble and your around them, you may get into trouble. Rohrer told the jury that what the state is claiming the evidence shows is that Fletcher’s involvement are all just assumptions because no one really knows exactly what she did.

Quigley countered by telling the jury there was no way of saying what part of the abuse or tampering Baker had been a part of either, so to say there needed to be for Fletcher was not relevant. It was said that there is no way to distinguish the roles and responsibilities of each party in this aspect of the case.

“The state doesn’t have to prove exactly what a person did. The state in this case is charging the defendant with aiding and abetting, basically helping Baker tamper with the evidence and abuse the corpse,” Quigley said.

The defendant’s involvement is interwoven with Baker. Quigley said Fletcher made the conscious choice.

“She chose Dean Baker overdoing what is right,” Quigley said.

The state believed Fletcher from Aug. 7 – Aug. 20, 2022, did knowingly alter evidence, destroy evidence, or produce false evidence, and did so with the intent of impacting an official investigation or legal proceeding. It is the state’s position that Fletcher also intentionally and unlawfully disinterred, dug up, removed, concealed, mutilated or destroyed a human corpse, or any part or the ashes thereof in a way that would outrage reasonable sensibilities.

The court did not sentence Fletcher following the verdict.

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].

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