A Fond du Lac man convicted of bludgeoning and strangling his estranged wife in the lobby of the Fox Lake Municipal Building in March of 2007 was handed a 30-year prison sentence Tuesday.
Jeffrey A. Asbury, 41, pleaded no contest to first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Sherry Asbury, 34, of Waupun, after the charge was amended from first-degree intentional homicide in October.
According to police reports, Asbury repeatedly tried to call Sherry Asbury on March 11, 2007, before their paths crossed while driving in Fox Lake. Upon seeing Jeffrey Asbury, Sherry Asbury accelerated in reverse for two blocks and backed into the parking lot of the municipal building, where he beat and strangled her, according to police reports.
Although the municipal building houses the city's Police Department, the only officer on duty was on patrol, leaving the office empty.
A courtroom packed with family members and friends of the victim looked on Tuesday as Dodge County Circuit Judge Andrew Bissonnette sentenced Asbury to 30 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision. Cheers erupted from the gallery as Bissonnette delivered his sentence.
Asbury expressed regret and assumed responsibility for the death of his wife.
"I wish I could trade my life for hers. I've lost the right to say I love her, but I did love her. I never imagined that I could be responsible for the death of another, let alone someone I love, but I am responsible for her death," he said.
Four people providing statements on Sherry Asbury's behalf described her as a caring woman who loved her three children more than anything else.
All four asked the same question: Why?
"If you loved her, as you say, then your hands would have never found their way around her neck. You promised to love, honor and protect her, you broke that vow," stated Sherry's mother, Darleen Beirman, in a letter read by Valarie Barrera, a family friend.
Asbury's mother, Maureen, took the stand on his behalf and said family dynamics and his drug use played a big part in Sherry Asbury's death.
"There are no heroes and no saints in this tragedy. Only victims in both sides of the family. There is no excuse for what happened. No justification," Maureen Asbury said.
Dodge County District Attorney Steven Bauer rehashed tension in the Asburys' failing marriage that led her to tell co-workers and police that she feared for her life.
Bauer also pointed to Asbury's impulsive nature, cocaine addiction and past criminal record in recommending a 35-year prison sentence.
Douglas Bihler, Asbury's attorney, argued that Asbury was not a violent person and recommended a 12- to 15- year prison term. He said Asbury exploded in rage after spending his entire income tax return on a 30-day cocaine binge that ended just before his wife's death.
"There is an explanation for what occurred," Bihler said. "... Compulsive cocaine use, as in Mr. Asbury's case ... distorts incoming stimuli that results in exaggerated responses when the addict feels threatened."
Bihler said Asbury's brother, Jerry, had plans to check him into rehab the day after Sherry Asbury's death.
However, Bissonnette said he could only judge Asbury on what he did, not what he intended to do.
"I have to sentence you based on reality, and not on wishful thinking," Bissonnette said. ""