YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A woman who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter for stabbing a man to death in her East Side apartment was sentenced today to five years probation.
The sentence handed down in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court by Judge Anthony Donofrio to Ashley Eiland, 34, came after an hour-long sentencing hearing, which included testimony that Eiland suffers from battered woman’s syndrome from a psychologist and reports and records documenting several incidents of abuse dating back to her childhood and the beating of one her children that was so severe that the child suffered permanent brain damage.
Eiland was arrested Aug. 16, 2019, for the June 25, 2019, stabbing death of Eugene Jones Jr., 37,
in Eiland’s Kendis Circle apartment.
Jones was stabbed after he punched Eiland, one of her children and another child and refused to leave the apartment when told to, said defense attorney Lynn Maro.
Eiland must go to the Community Corrections Association for counseling and follow any recommendations they give, Judge Donofrio said.
She has been in jail since her August 2019 arrest.
She pleaded guilty Aug. 31 to an amended charge of involuntary manslaughter, a third-degree felony. She was originally charged with murder.
Deborah Tomlin, Jones’ mother, asked for the maximum sentence, which is three years.
“He was not perfect, but no one is,” Tomlin said.
“My son was beside me every day until you took him,” Tomlin said. “My son did not deserve what you did to him.”
She called her son’s death an “evil act” and added, “Only you and God really know what happened June 25, 2019.”
A sister of Jones, Kesha Jones, also spoke, saying her brother’s loss will resonate for years.
Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Trapp said prosecutors took into account Eiland’s history of abuse when they offered to plead down the charge, but he asked for the maximum sentence, saying that her conduct could allow her to think she can kill someone again when she feels threatened and that Jones was not a known batterer.
Maro presented testimony from Dr. James Eisenberg via Zoom, who reviewed Eiland’s entire history dealing with assaults she experienced from family members as a child, to the father of one of her children serving a prison term for beating their son so badly the boy is in a nursing home and other partners who abused her and her children.
Eisenberg said Eiland’s history of abuse was one of the longest he had ever seen. He admitted under cross examination that her threshold for determining danger would be much lower than the average person because of her history.
Maro said the night of the attack Jones was drunk and he punched Eiland and the two children. Maro also said that Jones had been drunk at her apartment before. As she spoke of Jones, several members of his family could be seen rolling their eyes or shaking their heads in the gallery.
“In the past, when she [Eiland] grabbed a knife, he would run out and leave,” Maro said. But this time he did not, she added.
Maro also said that her client is not a threat to the community. She said many times in the past Eiland had suffered abuse and took no actions other than leaving or calling police to try and stop it. She said if released, Eiland has family support and would receive counseling.
Judge Donofrio said Dr. Eisengerg’s testimony on the abuse was compelling, especially how Eiland’s past history of abuse explained how she acted when she thought the children were in danger.
“This is a tragic event,” Judge Donofrio said. “It never should have escalated the way that it did.”
Eiland apologized to the Jones family. She said she never meant to kill him.
“I know Eugene was someone’s son, brother and uncle,” Eiland said. “There’s not a moment I don’t wish this would have went differently.”