How One Man Convinced his Wife to Murder his Girlfriend
Ashley Humphrey, victim or manipulator?
Ashley Christine Humphrey was convicted in 2006 of the murder of Sandra Rozzo. She received a sentence of twenty-five years for pulling the trigger that killed. Her husband was convicted of the same murder and received a life sentence, even though he was nowhere near the murder scene and had an alibi for the night of the killing. Why did this happen?
Ashley Laney was born on 13th October 1982 in Brandon, Florida. Throughout her early life, her parents were not there for her. Being convicted of sexual battery, her father was imprisoned shortly after Ashley was born. Her mother, an alcoholic, was incapable of looking after her, so she went to live with her grandmother. Her mother maintained a presence in her life, just not in the parental role.
When Ashley was in high school, her grandmother died; she still graduated with honours despite being devastated by the loss. However, college was a very different story; she dropped out in her freshman year, moving to Pinellas Park shortly afterwards. Once in Pinellas, Ashley took a job at a smoothie shop named Planet Smoothie. Across the street from the shop was a local gym known as Athletic club; it was here that she met Tracey Humphrey, her soon to be husband and co-defendant.
Tracey was older than Ashley, having been born in 1966. He had a long previous record for several crimes, some violent. In November 2001, he worked as a doorman in a local nightclub where he started a relationship with bartender Sandra Rozzo. The following February, he was arrested for felony battery and sexual assault on Rozzo; he was due to stand trial for the offence on 4th August 2003.
The Murdering couple
Having fallen for Tracey, there was one thing that hung over the happy couples head, the pending court case where Rozzo was to testify against Tracey. Despite this, on the 4th July 2003, the couple got married. The next day, Ashley waited for Rozzo to finish work and followed her home. Approaching her in the drive of her house, she shot her eight times.
When the police were called to the murder, their prime suspect was instantly Tracey Humphrey. However, when they looked into him, he had a supported alibi that placed him nowhere near the murder. Further investigation placed Ashley at the scene through her mobile phone records. She was arrested and taken into custody on suspicion of first-degree murder. Once in police custody, she told the officers everything, including details of a previous unsuccessful attempt made on Rozzo. She stated that Tracey was manipulative and abusive and had coerced her into the murder.
She agreed to testify against Tracey for a reduced sentence of twenty-five years and a charge of second-degree murder. Tracey, who testified on his own behalf, was clear that the murder had all been Ashley’s idea. However, the jury did not believe him and convicted him of first-degree murder, sentencing him to life in prison. The judge stated at the time that he would not recommend the death penalty as he felt life imprisonment would be a harsher sentence.
The Twist in the Tale
This seemed a tragic case of a poor woman who got caught up with a manipulative narcissist for many years. A controlling lover who planned and orchestrated the murder of an ex-girlfriend, who would have him sent away for the assault on her. Using Ashley’s vulnerability, he had persuaded her to carry out murder for him. Many would say that the punishments both received were fair.
In 2017, Ashley Humphrey was one of Piers Morgan’s women interviewed for his Killer Women series. As the episode started, many felt sympathy for Ashley. Morgan himself said he felt that this woman had not been in charge of her destiny, that was until she made a fatal mistake and admitted that the murder of Rozzo was her idea; she suggested it first.
I suggested what if she were not to show up in court, that is where it started and it snowballed. I was the first to say it. I don’t know why I let him into my head the way I did. — Ashley Humphrey
The detective who investigated the case stated that had she admitted this at the time of the trial, she would have received the death penalty. So was Ashley Humphrey a woman controlled by an abusive husband or a cold-blooded killer? She is due for release in 2028, when she will be forty-six.