Woman Convicted In Death Of Stepchild Looks To Appeal Life Sentence

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A woman from The Plains who pleaded guilty to charges related to the death of her 4-year-old stepdaughter wants to appeal her life sentence, but she may be too late.

In October of last year, Ashley Young, 27, agreed to what’s known as an Alford plea during negotiations with the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office. Young was charged in the death of her 4-year-old stepdaughter, Kaylen Young. The Alford plea essentially allowed Young to enter guilty pleas to charges of aggravated murder, murder, endangering children, tampering with evidence and attempted aggravated possession of drugs, but without admitting guilt — she instead stipulated there was enough evidence that a jury could have found her guilty.

Young was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole until 20 years had been served.

Last week, Young filed a motion with the 4th District Court of Appeals for permission to file a late appeal. After her plea, Young was told that she’d have 30 days during which she could file an appeal — albeit a limited one since she voluntarily pleaded guilty with the Alford plea. She did not file an appeal within that time frame.

In an affidavit, Young claims that she did not file an appeal initially because of “lack of knowledge” and goes on to write that due to a security level issue, her use of the prison library was limited. She also claimed that she had trouble getting the correct forms or someone to notarize those forms.

The prosecutor’s office is opposing Young’s motion.

Athens County Assistant Prosecutor Meg Saunders notes that Young signed her plea willingly and that the plea includes notice that any appeal must be filed within 30 days.

“The state contends that (Young) had plenty of knowledge in regards to filing a notice of appeal — she was advised in both her change of plea and her sentencing entry that she had such rights,” Saunders writes. “Additionally, there is no indication that she talked to her trail counsel about appealing her sentence.”

Saunders points out that Young waited 270 days to file her request for appeal.

Kaylen Young died in May of 2011, just days before her fifth birthday. Authorities assert that Ashley Young assaulted the girl, choked her and slammed her head to the floor so hard that an imprint of Kaylen’s head was found in the carpet of the home. Afterwards, Ashley Young allegedly hid clothing that Kaylen had been wearing that day and also tried to purchase narcotics on her way to the hospital after Kaylen was transported for treatment.