Myers enters insanity plea in Airport Road murder case

Prosecution says defense has to provide mental health expert opinion



Ashley Myers leaves her hearing Oct. 1 at the Whitman County Superior Court in Colfax. Myers pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity on Friday.

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

Ashley Myers, the woman accused of killing 55-year-old Kenneth Allen of Coeur d’Alene on Airport Road outside of Colfax in September, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in Whitman County Superior Court on Friday.

Myers also pleaded not guilty to a charge of possession of methamphetamine, Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy said.

Steve Martonick, Myers’ attorney, said his client has the right to withdraw her plea at any time, Tracy said.

Tracy said the defense now has to have a mental health expert examine the 30-year-old and write an opinion on her mental state at the time of the killing.

“The way insanity works in this state, the first step is the defendant has to be evaluated by an expert paid for by the defendant or the state if they can’t afford it,” Tracy said. “The expert examines the defendant and forms an opinion on if the defendant was sane at the time of the crime.”

If the defense’s expert argues that Myers was not sane at the time of the shooting, a mental health expert from Eastern State Hospital will perform their own evaluation, Tracy said.

In the case both experts agree she was not sane at the time, the court will enter a ruling of not guilty by reason of insanity. This would lead to Myers being committed to a mental hospital for up to the maximum sentence possible for her charges, Tracy said.

“In this case, Ms. Myers would then be committed to a mental hospital for up to the rest of her life,” he said.

Myers could be released from the hospital if she is found to have been rehabilitated and no longer a threat to the public, Tracy said.

If the two experts disagree, a trial will be held to determine if Myers was insane. If the jury sides with the defense, she will be found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed. If the jury agrees with the prosecution, she will be found guilty of the charges brought against her and sentenced, Tracy said.

David Frazier, a retired Whitman County Superior Court judge, filled in for Judge Gary Libey during proceedings last Friday but Tracy said he expects Libey to resume presiding over the case going forward.

Myers’ next planned appearance is a scheduling hearing Friday. A readiness hearing is currently planned for Nov. 30 and the trial is set to start Dec. 10, Tracy said.

Myers faces a charge of first degree murder after Whitman County Sheriff officers arrested her following reports of a woman waving a gun near State Route 26 and Colfax Airport Road on Sept. 28. Allen was found dead with gunshot wounds in a car near where officers made contact with Myers. Officers also found meth near the car.