Blaming The Babysitter

Toddler Dead, Teen Charged After Weekend Of Babysitting

Before her trial began, Ashley's attorney asked a judge to throw out all of the statements she gave to police. But it wasn't easy because, in Washington state, law enforcement can legally question anyone 13 years of age without a parent or an attorney present and police claim Ashley knowingly and willingly waived her rights.

If Ashley is found guilty, she could go to jail until she's 21, a thought that was on everyone's mind as they head to court.

"I've never had a murder case where I went into it feeling like - I've got 'em where I want 'em. And this case is no exception," says Hershman.

Eight months after Freya Garden's death, Judge Mary Roberts presided over a pre-trial hearing. The prosecution needed to prove the detectives who questioned Ashley did nothing wrong and followed the letter of the law.

Det. Caril Chilo interviewed Ashley that Sunday night while Freya was at the hospital.

"She said she had shaken her when she cried for no reason. And she had shaken her a second time when she cried in the splashing water in the bathtub," Chilo says on the stand.

Suspicions grew when Ashley was given a pen and paper and she wrote a letter, which read in part: "She does not deserve this. I do … I should have been way more gentle with Freya. She did nothing for this all because of me. I am going to just totally hate myself for this."

After several hours of questioning, detectives were convinced Ashley had killed Freya. It was approximately 3 a.m. Monday, when they started videotaping the questioning.

"I didn't realize that shaking her like this could have done anything," Ashley says on tape.

"I think that what they realized from the videotape statement was that Ashley was in fact implicating herself as a suspect in this case," Van Olst says.

It was only then that detectives read Ashley her Miranda rights. She was arrested and sent to the juvenile detention center.

Early that Monday morning, her father, John, was allowed to see her.

Howes had no idea what his daughter had told police, but he gave her strict instructions not to say anything more. "She was sitting on my lap and I told her that definitely do not talk to anybody until I get a lawyer," he recalls.

But after Howes left, Ashley was brought back to the police station where she was interviewed by homicide detectives Nathan Janes and Paul Takemoto.

Asked by the prosecutor if Ashley ever told him she didn't want to talk police or wanted a lawyer, Takemoto said no.

Janes even had Ashley read over her rights before he began his questioning.

Asked why he did that, Janes testified, "I wanted to make sure she did understand that she did not have to talk to us and what these rights actually mean."

The detective also stated on the stand that Ashley had indicated that she understood her rights.

But under cross examination, Janes had a different story.

"Was she able to explain the rights to you?" Hershman asks.

"No. Not right at that moment. No," Det. Janes says.

"Det. Janes says, 'Do you understand those rights? Can you explain them to me?' And she just sat there with this blank look on her face," Hershman says.

"You said to Ashley, 'OK, do you still want to talk to us then? It's up to you.' Her response was, 'My dad said I'm not supposed to talk to anybody unless him or a lawyer is present,' " says Hershman.

Hershman says Ashley was invoking her right to remain silent, but the detectives kept on pushing her.

"And then you say, 'OK, so - but the decision is up to you, it's not like we're trying to railroad you or anything like that.' She says, 'I'm supposed to wait.' Do you recall that?" Hershman asks Janes on the stand.

"Yep, that's correct," Janes replies.