Appeals Court Upholds Life Sentence Of Ashley McArthur For Murder Of Private Investigator

April 19, 2021

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The Florida First District Court of Appeal has upheld the first degree murder conviction and life sentence of a former crime scene investigator for killing a woman for money and burying her body on the family farm in Cantonment.

Ashley McArthur was convicted of shooting and killing private investigator and former police officer Taylor Wright over $34,000.

McArthur appealed, seeking a new trial because the jury inadvertently saw a photo of McArthur pointing a shotgun. She also argued that the trial court erroneously admitted statements that she made to law enforcement, certain cell phone records, and the victim’s text messages.

Wright went missing on September 8, 2017. McArthur emerged as a suspect after an investigation found her to be the last person known to be with the victim that day. McArthur’s bank records also showed that she deposited a $34,000 cashier’s check made out to the victim into her own checking account and later spent the money.

On October 19, 2017, investigators called McArthur to the Pensacola Police station to return her cell phone and then, after advising her of her Miranda rights, asked questions related to their ongoing missing-person investigation. McArthur told investigators that she had deposited a cashier’s check made out to the victim into a checking account that had her and the victim’s name on it. Investigators also asked McArthur about cell tower records showing her to be in Cantonment at a time that she claimed to be in Milton.

After the interview, the victim’s remains were found under concrete and potting soil along the fence line of a Cantonment farm off Britt Road, just west of County Road 97 near Muscogee Road. The farm was owned by McArthur’s aunt.

McArthur was charged with first-degree premeditated murder. Before trial, McArthur sought to suppress statements she made to investigators at the October interview as well as her cell phone records. She also filed a motion to exclude any statements or text messages from the victim as hearsay. The trial court denied McArthur’s motions to suppress and motion, and she proceeded to trial on the murder charge.

During the prosecution’s examination of one of its witnesses, a photo showing McArthur in the woods crouching in hunting gear and aiming a shotgun was briefly and inadvertently shown to the jury. McArthur moved for a mistrial on the grounds of prejudice. The trial court denied the motion, and she was found guilty as charged. She argued in her appeal that the trial court erred by not declaring a mistrial over the photo.

“We see no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s refusal to grant a mistrial due to the inadvertent display of the hunting photo. A photo of McArthur crouching in hunting gear and pointing a shotgun (not the murder weapon) accidentally flashed on the screen during trial and was before the jury for a second or two. After an objection, the court addressed the issue quickly by giving a cautionary instruction that was requested by the defense,” the appeals justices said in their order. “Other trial testimony had noted that McArthur owned firearms, and there were photos in evidence of her in camouflage holding or shouldering firearms. Taking these factors together, the trial court’s decision that the photo wasn’t so prejudicial as to vitiate the entire trial cannot be considered erroneous.”

The appeals court found that all of the statements related to the case made by McArthur after the return of her cell phone were made following the reading of her Miranda rights.

The appeals court also found that all of the victim’s text messages and statements were not hearsay. Rather, the court found they were relevant to establishing a timeline, motive and intent.

Pictured top: Taylor Wright. Pictured mug shot, inset: Ashley McArthur.

Comments

17 Responses to “Appeals Court Upholds Life Sentence Of Ashley McArthur For Murder Of Private Investigator”

  1. John on May 7th, 2021 8:47 am

    Ashley, enjoy your lifetime stay at the gray-bar hotel. You deserve nothing but life in prison and no parole ever. One can clearly see the evil in your eyes.

  2. angela newsom on May 1st, 2021 8:52 am

    Psychopaths arent friends, they are predators.She lied ,stole from and cheated her husband and family.All people are prey…money and power are priorities.NO EXCEPTIONS

  3. marie on April 24th, 2021 2:15 pm

    Set her free

  4. William Lingo on April 21st, 2021 11:00 am

    I agree David!!! Murderers should Not ever be eligible for parole, the victim doesn’t get a reprieve, so why should a murderer and this woman has never expressed any regrets about her actions, at least to my knowledge!!!

  5. David on April 20th, 2021 4:00 pm

    When she gets up for parole in 15 years it will be nice to hear the words…NO PAROLE
    Then in 5-10 More years she can try again…NO PAROLE…this thing is not human

    But hopefully she got LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE

  6. J.S on April 20th, 2021 10:40 am

    Omg move on Ashley…all thats gonna happen is a waste of tax payers money….oh and couple of days outta your cell to go to court for them to throw it out…just wait patiencely for your turn to go outside on your reck day and not waste my money toteing u back and forth to the court house

  7. Duke of Wawbeek on April 19th, 2021 9:25 pm

    “Along came a spider”

  8. Really? on April 19th, 2021 8:59 pm

    @tee bug

    Ashley is as guilty as the day is long. Tons of physical evidence, video footage and cell records to back up her conviction. She’s a black widow. Taylor Wright was a innocent person and Ashley shot her in the back of the head over money. Truly disturbing.

  9. David on April 19th, 2021 7:32 pm

    @ Teebug…
    Her trail was not based on as you say ” how you feel”
    You are delusional !

    This sad , small, nasty person has zero remorse..its all about her.
    Rot where she is at.

  10. Tee bug on April 19th, 2021 4:24 pm

    I just don’t believe for the life of me that this young lady done all they are accusing her of perhaps she did do wrong but it’s just almost hard to believe all this I feel she is being wrongly accused on alot of this

  11. Mary Mattheiss on April 19th, 2021 3:05 pm

    I agree with what paul said. You had a court trial + an appeal. You were convicted. At least you have a life. Can’t say the same for your victim. Such a tragic waste of life : yours from your selfish greed and even extremely more tragic, Taylor’s death at your hands.

  12. Howie on April 19th, 2021 1:49 pm

    Ashley McArthur you never had a right to the $34,000. Taylor Wright trusted you with her money and you felt the need to keep it with no intentions of returning it. It takes a stupid person to deposit money belonging to someone else in their private account. Then worse than that, spend the money and kill them at a later date.

    Stop finding excuses for these Appeals and move on with your life behind bars.
    Welcome to the Karma Cafe. There are no menus and you will get served what you deserve.

    You have no regard for human life by committing this horrible act of criminal activity = EVIL WOMAN !

  13. Ben Watchin on April 19th, 2021 10:07 am

    Cold Blooded!!!

  14. Chris J Paul on April 19th, 2021 8:55 am

    All over $34k.
    Ive lost that on a business deal and moved on/
    the LOVE of money is the root of most evil in this world.

  15. Alan on April 19th, 2021 7:56 am

    @Sue.

    Florida hasn’t had the electric chair for 20+ years.

    The average length of time on death row in Florida is 15 years while the State not only pays to house them, it pays for most, if not all, of their appeals, all to the tune of about $2M. Inmates sentenced to life have to pay for their own appeals and on average cost about $1M less.

  16. Sue on April 19th, 2021 5:50 am

    What right did the poor girl have that she killed.electric chair is good for her. If there is no doubt quit over crowding the prisons

  17. paul on April 19th, 2021 5:34 am

    Had your day + appeal – now you have what is left of a lifetime to own up to what you did.





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