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Lazale Delane ASHBY





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: December 2, 2002 / September 1, 2003
Date of arrest: September 4, 2003
Date of birth: November 28, 1984
Victim profile: Elizabeth García, 21 (his neighbor) / Nahshon Cohen, 21
Method of murder: Strangulation / Shooting
Location: Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on March 28, 2008

Lazale Delane Ashby was condemned to death on March 28, 2008. On December 2, 2002, Ashby raped and murdered his neighbor, 21-year-old Elizabeth Garcia, in her Hartford apartment, and was subsequently convicted of the crimes.


Lazale Ashby becomes youngest on Ct's Row

Associated Press

April 5, 2008

A Hartford man convicted of raping and murdering his neighbor in her apartment was sentenced to die Friday, making him Connecticut's youngest death row inmate.

Lazale Ashby, now 23, turned 18 4 days before the battered body of 21-year-old acquaintance Elizabeth Garcia was found in her Hartford apartment on Dec. 2, 2002.

She was found after she failed to pick up her 2-year-old daughter from a neighbor.

Hartford Superior Court Judge Carmen Espinosa sentenced Ashby to death Friday, making him the 10th man on Connecticut's death row. He was convicted in 2007. A jury recommended the death penalty earlier this year.

In addition to capital felony murder, Ashby was convicted of rape, kidnapping, burglary, and murder of a victim of sexual assault and kidnapping.

About 50 people attended the sentencing Friday in Superior Court in Hartford, where many let loose with an emotional chorus of "yes" when Espinosa sentenced Ashby to death, The Hartford Courant reported on its Web site.

A note that Ashby wrote to a fellow inmate was among evidence presented at the trial. In that note, he allegedly said he enjoyed viewing the graphic crime scene photos and wrote to the other inmate, "I did a good job on her."

Prosecutors said DNA evidence linked Ashby to the crime, and that Garcia had been badly beaten and stabbed before she was strangled and left on her apartment floor.

Ashby was arrested by Hartford police in September 2003 and made several statements implicating himself in Garcia's murder, as well as in the killing of 22-year-old Manchester resident Nahshon Cohen a few days before his arrest, prosecutors said.

Hartford police found Cohen lying on a street in the city's North End on Sept. 1, 2003, with several gunshot wounds. He died several hours later.

Ashby was charged with murder, attempted murder and carrying a pistol without a permit in the death, according to court records. The case is pending.


Jury recommends death for Lazale Ashby in Hartford Conn. murder

February 1, 2008

Lazale D. Ashby's own words, in a note he wrote in prison last spring, played a crucial part in at least one juror's decision to convict him of the rape and murder of a young mother in her Hartford apartment -- and to condemn him to death.

"A big deal was the note," jury foreman Thomas Gallagher of Windsor Locks said in a telephone interview Thursday evening, several hours after the 12-member Hartford Superior Court jury decided that Ashby should be executed for killing Elizabeth Garcia, 21, in December 2002.

Gallagher said the note was important in the jury's decision last June to convict Ashby of the murder because it gave details of the crime, identifying a tank top as the weapon used to strangle Garcia and saying Ashby had burned the knife used to stab her repeatedly.

The jurors removed a bloody tank top from an evidence bag and examined it, Gallagher said.

"I think it was what he used," the jury foreman said. "The straps and the area around the straps seemed like it could have been twisted."

Gallagher said a knife with a burned handle was found in Garcia's apartment on Zion Street in Hartford, where she was killed, although no blood was found on it.

In Gallagher's view, the note also undermined arguments by Ashby's public defenders that his mental capacity was impaired.

"To me it showed that he was of sound mind," the jury foreman said. "It was almost like he was trying to trick the cops and trick us."

...A crazy schemer?

An inmate, Kenneth N. Pladsen Jr., testified about the note. In his final argument to the jury in the trial's penalty phase, public defender M. Fred DeCaprio stressed Pladsen's role in the note's creation. DeCaprio called Pladsen crazy but suggested that he was a schemer as well.

"Pladsen was pretty messed up," Gallagher conceded. "I don't know how much Pladsen had to do with it, but it was in Ashby's handwriting."

During the penalty phase of the trial, the defense presented extensive evidence about Ashby's life as he grew up in Hartford, which included abandonment by his mother at age 6 and subsequent neglect by an aunt who gained custody of him.

"I feel for this kid," Gallagher said. "His life was horrible. It does not excuse what he did to Elizabeth.

"I don't care what her life was like," he continued. "She was trying to take care of her daughter. And he snuffed her out, and he didn't do it quick."

During the trial's penalty phase, prosecutors presented evidence that Ashby also had committed two other violent crimes: the rape of a young woman identified only as C.M. on a Hartford street and the fatal shooting of Nahshon B. Cohen, a 1998 Manchester High School graduate.

"If we didn't know about C.M. or Nahshon, it might have gone a different way," Gallagher said.

...Temporary deadlock

The jury deliberated for more than a week before deciding on the death penalty.

In a note to Judge Carmen E. Espinosa late Tuesday afternoon, Gallagher said the jury was deadlocked. But, at Espinosa's urging, the jurors resumed deliberations the next day.

Gallagher said some jurors already had changed their minds overnight. "Our minds were open," he said.

He described an emotional deliberation among jurors who had gotten to know each other extremely well during the trial's guilt and penalty phases, which lasted a total of some four months.

"It was very, very difficult for people," Gallagher said. "People were crying."

The courtroom was crowded, but mostly with court personnel, when the jury of six men and six women delivered its penalty verdict after 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

Six friends and relatives of Garcia's -- including her mother and aunt, who had attended much of the lengthy trial -- sat in the front of the spectators galley on the prosecution side of the courtroom.

Ashby's mother, Carmen, a tall, thin woman who has struggled with drug addiction for much of her adult life, was the sole person other than professionals on his side of the courtroom aisle.

Ashby, 23, sat looking down, as he has throughout the death-penalty hearing, while a court clerk read the verdict form announcing the jury's decision to have him put to death.
Garcia's family reacted emotionally when it became clear that the jury had opted for a death sentence.

Later, as Ashby was led out of the courtroom, his mother called to him, "I love you, Lazale."

...A mother's apology

Outside the courtroom several minutes earlier -- when it was known that the jury had reached a verdict but not what the decision was -- Carmen Ashby looked over at Garcia's family and said, "I want to tell them I'm sorry."

She borrowed a pencil and paper from a reporter and wrote several lines, then looked up and said she wasn't sure it was a good idea. She tore the paper in small pieces and threw it in a trashcan.

But after the announcement of the verdict, she said, "I still would want somebody to tell that family that I'm still sorry, that I apologize that this had to happen to their child. I'm not a villain. I'm not cruel."

Outside the courthouse later, a reporter read that message to Garcia's mother, Betsy Rodriguez. She didn't immediately respond.

But Rodriguez did say, "I wish I could thank all the jurors, every single one individually. I know this was very, very hard for them."

In addition to the note he wrote in prison, the evidence against Ashby at the trial's guilt phase included a match between his DNA and DNA found in Garcia's body, as well as a confession he signed after being arrested some nine months after the crime.

Although Ashby will be formally sentenced at a later date, Espinosa has no choice as to what to do. Unless she finds legal grounds to set aside the jury's verdict, a rare event, state law requires her to impose the sentence directed by the jury.

After the verdict, Cynthia Ayres, the "mitigation specialist" who spearheaded the defense investigation of Ashby's background, accompanied Carmen Ashby to the door of the courthouse to shepherd her through any media crowd that might have formed. There was none.

Carmen Ashby said her goodbyes and walked down Hartford's Lafayette Street alone.



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