Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Trial to begin in death of 8-year-old girl

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A Hamilton man will go on trial today for involuntary manslaughter in the death of 8-year-old Ashley Smith. Authorities say she died from injuries suffered when she was shaken as an infant.

        John C. Cooper, who was the boyfriend of Ashley's biological mother, was convicted of endangering a child for the shaking incident and served one year in prison.

        Prosecutors filed the involuntary manslaughter charge against Mr. Cooper after Ashley died on Oct. 31, 1999. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

        Because of the shaking, which occurred when Ashley was 3 weeks old, she suffered severe physical and mental disabilities. She couldn't talk or sit up.

        Elbert and Kathy Smith of Milford Township adopted Ashley when she was 2.

        Mrs. Smith said she is eager for the trial to start.

        “I hope we get some kind of justice out of it,” she said. “Each time we go to court and get told it's being postponed, it's like Ashley's dying all over again.”

        The Smiths, who operate a heating and air-conditioning business, buried Ashley in a clearing beyond a hay field on their 73-acre farm in northern Butler County.

        After learning that the Smiths could not afford to buy a tombstone, the owner of a monument company donated a tombstone last year for Ashley's grave.

        The tombstone includes an illustration of a candle with a sleeping angel at its base and bears the inscription, “Our Little Angel.”

        The Smiths, who have three adult children, adopted two other severely handicapped children besides Ashley.

        Mrs. Smith has become an advocate for children and has spoken to school and civic groups about shaken baby syndrome and other forms of child abuse.

        She said she frequently visits Ashley's grave.

        “I pray there and sometimes I even talk to her,” Mrs. Smith said. “I let her know Mommy is trying to do something for her and for other children who were abused.”


GOP backers set to party
Tone will be different from Clinton/Gore celebrations
CPS proficiency rank declines
CPS redesigns high schools
Most seniors dropped by HMOs yet to pick backup
Goal: 'Health-care independence' for seniors
Missionary loses home, but not hope
Tristate group aids quake victims
CROWLEY: One-man show
RADEL: Documentary in the making
SAMPLES: Birth was surprising, traumatic and scared the dog
Boone courts plan 50-year run
Boost sought for care tax
Campbell sees need for ball fields, trails
Cathedral bids are in
County breather
Defense fund for officers collects more than $19,000
Hamilton police vow to fight cuts
Intruders still at large
Kenton Dems set short list for chair
Kenton urges later poll hours
N.Ky. agency's new Web site to attract employers
Northside student fasts to protest new Army school
Painters compete for cash
Schools to ask for $50 million
Shooting range near completion
Sludge cleanup cost exceeds $46 million
- Trial to begin in death of 8-year-old girl
Twp. OKs new zoning
Kentucky News Briefs
Tristate A.M. Report