- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Layla Johnson’s family sat leaning forward, eyes fixated on the back of the Vine Grove babysitter who pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing the 2-year-old girl in January.
Ashley N. Chapman, 28, pleaded guilty to charges of murder and second-degree persistent felony offense. She also had family in the Hardin Circuit Court gallery Wednesday.
She’s been in custody since Jan. 26, the day after the child was admitted to the hospital with severe bruising, swelling and bleeding in her brain, injuries police said she sustained while in Chapman’s care.
Three days later, Layla died and Chapman was charged with murder. Layla’s third birthday would have been Friday, Nov. 9.
The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office recommended a 35-year sentence for the charges of murder and persistent felony offense.
Wearing a blue Daviess County Detention Center jumpsuit, Chapman reached for a tissue as Circuit Judge Ken Howard began asking her questions about the case.
Through tears, she answered “yes” to each question about the events leading to Layla’s fatal injuries.
According to her statements in court, Chapman was under the influence of pharmaceutical drugs, including Xanax, on Jan. 25 while the child was in her care.
Chapman said she does not have full memory of the events, but at some point, the child fell and landed on her head on a hardwood floor, according to statements.
Chapman admitted she did not seek medical attention for the girl, who ultimately died from the head injury.
During the exchange, some members of the child’s family left the courtroom.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Carr said the plea deal was made in agreement with the child’s family.
According to state police, after a conversation occurred between the babysitter and Layla’s mother, family retrieved the 2-year-old from Chapman’s Vine Grove residence and took the toddler to Hardin Memorial Hospital.
She later was transported to University Hospital in Louisville where she died. She was buried in North Hardin Memorial Gardens.
Howard said discovery in the case has been “voluminous” and Chapman’s attorney, public defender Melanie Foote, made several requests for experts in preparation for the March 18 jury trial.
“There has been no request that I have denied in this case thus far,” the judge said.
The trial date has been canceled. Chapman next will appear for a formal sentencing at 10 a.m. Dec. 13.
If Howard accepts the plea agreement, Chapman will be required to serve 85 percent — 20 years — of the 35-year sentence before she is eligible to apply for parole.
Chapman is serving time in Daviess County for probation violations. According to Howard, her sentence for offenses in Hardin County will be served after any previous sentences.
Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or email@example.com.