A judge has denied a Greenup woman’s request to drop a murder charge against her on grounds that she was defending herself when she fatally stabbed a man in the throat at a Frankfort apartment complex because she believed a cash bounty was “on her head,” according to court records.
Franklin County Circuit Judge Philip Shepherd recently issued the ruling in the case against 31-year-old Ashley Rene “Relo” Jones. She was arrested after police responded in April 2018 to Hickory Hills Manor, 120 Marlowe Court, to find 25-year-old Marcus A. Morris suffering from a stab wound to the neck. He later died from the injuries. Jones was tracked down days later and charged with murder, a capital offense, and second-degree persistent felony offender in the case, court records state.
Jones had previously asked that the judge dismiss her indictment, claiming she was defending herself at the time of the fatal stabbing. Jones claimed that Morris had put a $5,000 bounty “on her head” on Snapchat, a social media app, and she feared for her life. However, the judge relied on eyewitness testimony that an argument leading up to the stabbing had nothing to do with a bounty, court records state.
“In her interview, (the witness) stated that immediately prior to the stabbing, (Jones) made remarks to (Morris) about (her) belief that (Morris) was a poor father and rose from the couch to confront (Morris),” Shepherd wrote. The witness “stated that she asked (Jones) to leave, but (she) did not leave and (Jones) and (Morris) continued to exchange words.”
The witness, Destiny Manley, told authorities she even stood between the two in order to prevent the situation from escalating. However, Jones broke free, Manley said, and was able to reach around her to stab Morris in the throat, court records state.
“Notably, (Manley) provides that (Morris) was backing away from (Jones) when he was stabbed, and (Morris) was not armed, and (Morris) was not the aggressor, but was instead provoked into the exchange by (Jones),” Shepherd wrote.
Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland also provided the judge with context of the situation that led up to the fatal stabbing. He reported that Morris and Manley had a child together and had been separated for about four months. In that time, Jones began pursuing a romantic relationship with Manley and attempted to act as a "father figure" to the child, but Manley was not interested and told Jones as much. It resulted in what Cleveland characterized as “stalking” behavior as well as other aggression from Jones.
The morning of the stabbing, all three ended up in Manley’s apartment together when Jones began making derogatory remarks to Morris about his presence in the child’s life, Cleveland reported. It led to a verbal altercation between the two and Jones eventually drawing a knife and allegedly stabbing Morris in the throat.
Jones then fled with the knife as Morris walked out the front door of the apartment, bleeding profusely from the wound.
In light of the combined statements, Shepherd found that Jones’ use of force was not justified and denied her request to dismiss the indictment, saying it would be up to a jury to decide guilt or innocence.
Shepherd also ordered Jones to turn over two cellphones for further investigation.
Jones had been scheduled to go before a jury on the charge on April 15. But due to conflicting trials set for that week and evidence needing to be reviewed by her defense attorney, the trial date has been postponed indefinitely.
Jones has pleaded not guilty in the case.