Aug 24, 2011 11:31 PM by Maddie Garrett

Plea Deal Reached in 2006 Murder, Family Speaks Out

A five-year-old murder case comes to a close in Lafayette. Relatives of Ashley Barker, who was found shot to death in 2006, speak out for the first time about the murder and the plea deal that was reached.

"If there is such a thing as closure, I think this is the closest to closure they're going to get," said Donna Talley, Barker's Aunt.

Talley was in court Tuesday when 33-year-old Laron Ruffin pled no contest to manslaughter in the 2006 shooting death of Ashley Barker. Police had found her body in the passenger seat of her car with a single gunshot wound to the head on Lemoine Street.

Almost two years after the murder, DNA evidence linked Ruffin to the crime. But there were holes in the case.

"There was no murder weapon, they couldn't find anything like that, there weren't really any witnesses that saw anything so you always stood the chance that he could get out," said Talley.

Ruffin claimed he paid Barker to have sex with him in her car, and when he left her she was still alive. According to the Advocate, the prosecution would have argued he forced her to have sex with him at gun point and then killed her. But the case was circumstantial.

Barker's family had wanted Ruffin to serve at least 20 years in prison, but that couldn't be guaranteed without a plea deal. Talley said at the last minute, the day Ruffin was supposed to stand trial, he agreed to the plea deal.

"Taking the plea deal at least you know that there's some justice, that there's going to be some payment for what he did," she said.

While Talley said they would have liked to see Ruffin serve life in prison, they found some closure in the fact that he admitted to the crime in court, even though it was difficult to hear. Talley said Barker's mother took it the hardest.

"When he stood up and said that "yes, I killed Ashley Renee Barker," she said it felt like somebody had just stabbed a knife through her heart, was the way she said it made her feel, because it was like he didn't care," said Talley.

Ruffin will now serve 20 years in prison as part of the plea deal.



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