Taylor Wright, a 33-year-old private investigator and ex-police officer, disappeared on September 8, 2017, in Pensacola, Florida, and her body was found the following month buried under concrete at the edge of a property owned by her friend Ashley McArthur’s family. She had been shot once in the back of the head.
Investigators found that Wright had given McArthur $34,000 for safekeeping in the middle of her divorce proceedings and prosecutors said she was meeting up with her friend on September 8 when she disappeared, the Pensacola News Journal reported. On October 19, 2017, the same day Wright’s remains were found on McArthur’s family farm, McArthur was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Where is Ashley McArthur today?
She Was Found Guilty of 1st-Degree Murder & Sentenced to Life in Prison
McArthur was sentenced to first-degree premeditated murder on August 30, 2019, and received a sentence of life in prison. The 43-year-old is currently serving her sentence at the Lowell Correctional Institution, also known as the Lowell Annex, public records show. The Annex is a women’s prison with a 1,500-inmate capacity located in Ocala, Florida, northwest of Orlando.
Prosecutors argued that McArthur killed Wright for financial gain and presented to the jury motive and opportunity during the week-long trial, Pensacola News Journal reported. “Ladies and gentlemen, Ashley McArthur had a motive, Ashley McArthur had the opportunity, Ashley McArthur murdered Taylor Wright and then she tried to cover it up with lies, concrete and potting soil,” prosecutors said in closing arguments.
She Was Also Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Other Unrelated Crimes, Including Fraud
In March 2018, while she was out on bail before her trial for Wright’s murder, McArthur was charged with arson, racketeering and fraud for separate events that took place before Wright’s murder, CourtTV reported. According to investigators, McArthur embezzled thousands from local businesses while managing her family’s company Pensacola Automatic Amusement between 2015 and 2017.
The day McArthur was supposed to meet the businesses about their missing revenue at Pensacola Automatic Amusement, a fire broke out, leading to the arson charges against McArthur. In January 2019, McArthur was convicted of racketeering and organized fraud but not arson and she was sentenced to seven years in prison, public records show.
McArthur Appealed the Verdict But the First District Court of Appeal in the State of Florida Upheld Her Conviction
McArthur appealed her guilty verdict to the First District Court of Appeal in the State of Florida but on April 16, 2021, her judgment and sentencing were upheld by the court. McArthur argued that the jury was unfairly prejudiced when a photo of herself holding and pointing a shotgun was accidentally shown. She also argued that statements she made to investigators and cell phone records should not have been admitted into evidence.
In their judgment, the appeals court wrote that the trial court did not make an error in allowing those pieces of evidence to be heard, and also added that the shotgun photo “wasn’t so prejudicial as to vitiate the entire trial.” It explained that there was additional testimony during the trial that showed McArthur owning and holding firearms and dressed in camouflage.
It’s unclear at this time if McArthur’s legal team will attempt another challenge of her verdict.
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