An Aurora man was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison for killing a woman whose body was later dumped in Clear Creek County.
Shawrae Butler, 22, accepted a plea agreement March 5 in which he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and to tampering with a deceased human body in the death of Queen Ashby. Other counts against him were dismissed. On Thursday, Arapahoe District Judge Ben Leutwyler sentenced Butler to 20 years in the Department of Corrections on each count, to be served concurrently.
“The tragedy of her death is more than enough for her family, but added to that is the complete disregard for her and for her family and for human life in general,” Leutwyler said in imposing the sentence. “To have her wrapped and dumped in that manner is appalling to me.”
District Attorney George Brauchler monitored the case closely.
“Another felon has found a way to participate in a horrendous gun-related crime…while on probation. Shooting the young mother of a 6-month-old baby in the head is outrageous,” Brauchler said. “Doing nothing to help her and allowing her body to be dumped like garbage…that is despicable.”
On April 8, 2017, the body of woman was found alongside Highway 103 in Clear Creek County. The woman had been shot in the temple and had no identification.
When a drawing of the woman was released, tips came in, and investigators used fingerprints to determine the woman was Ashby, 20, who had been reported missing from her Aurora home.
Identification led investigators to her apartment on Joliet Street in Aurora.
Aurora Police detectives discovered that on April 1, 2017, a group of friends were at the apartment doing drugs. Witnesses identified Butler as being there and having a gun. Several witnesses said he put the gun against Ashby’s temple and pulled the trigger.
At Butler’s sentencing, the courtroom was packed to overflowing with friends and family of Ashby.
When she was killed, she had a 6-month-old baby girl.
“This is about justice,” the baby’s father told the court. “I’ve been trying to do everything for my baby … she ain’t gonna know her mama at all.”
Ashby’s mother echoed that: “How will I explain to my granddaughter that her mom is gone, and that somebody threw her away like she was nothing?” she told the court as she wept.
Ashby’s grandmother gave an emotional statement, saying through tears, “Someone killed her, dumped her … left her there to rot. People care for more for their dogs.”
Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson acknowledged challenges in the case.
Still, she said, “The defendant is a felon who never should have been in possession of a firearm at any time.”
She added: “The death of Queen Ashby is a horrible tragedy and a terrible act on the part of this defendant. … The act of moving her body like trash makes it so much more egregious.”