By Jamie Leary
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – A Berthoud teen will spend the rest of his life behind bars after a jury found him guilty on Wednesday of intentionally killing his ex-girlfriend.
Tanner Flores, 19, was charged with first-degree murder after deliberation for the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend Ashley Doolittle.
The Flores family left the courtroom in tears, speaking with no one. Their son will spend life in prison.
The family of Ashley Doolittle spoke exclusively with CBS4. They said the conviction is exactly what they wanted for their daughter, but victorious is far from how they feel.
“We’re happy that there’s justice for Ashley, but in reality two families were destroyed, and my heart goes out to the Flores family,” said Ashley’s mother, Ann Marie Doolittle.
“I hope there is healing.”
Tanner Flores said he never planned to kill Ashley. In court, his defense team said Ashley is still the love of his life. Multiple times they told the jury that Tanner was trying to make sense of the breakup and acted hastily. Multiple times they said his body acted faster than his brain could process. Based on this account, his defense argued for a second degree murder charge.
That, however, did not stick with the jury.
The jury found that Flores did in fact deliberately kill Doolittle. Not only that, they felt there was enough evidence to show he kidnapped Ashley.
The murder charge alone is a punishment which carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. The kidnapping charge could add an additional 32 years.
The evidence presented at times was gruesome.
“It’s been very very very difficult. I went through a roller coaster of emotions today alone,” said Jeff Doolittle, Ashley’s father.
Ann Marie said there were times where she couldn’t look.
“Every day, what will be in my memory everything that was brought up in court.”
Even more painful for Ann Marie, the constant thoughts about what could have been.
“I think back to the silly arguments we had and, you know, I’ll never be able to say ‘I’m sorry’ or we won’t be able to joke as she got older about how silly some of that was.”
The Doolittles, speaking to CBS4 from their Loveland ranch, were happy to be home decompressing with family and friends. Ashley spent much of her time in Loveland riding her horse, Bubba. Competitive riding, and horses in general, were a big part of her life.
Ann Marie says that while Bubba helps her focus on the future, for the Doolittles it’s the foundation they created in Ashley’s honor that’s their main focus.
The mission of the foundation is to educate the community about domestic violence and promote opportunities for younger generations in rural areas.
“Raising awareness of breakup violence, you know, the teenage domestic violence,” said Ann Marie.
It helps the Doolittles find meaning in Ashley’s murder.
“We want some good to come out of this through the Ashley Doolittle Foundation and try to prevent this from happening to other families so they don’t have to go through what we went through,” said Ann Marie.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.