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Jury finds defendant not guilty in 1997 Fort Myers murder

Posted at 7:12 PM, Sep 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-03 20:46:13-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A jury has found Michelle Ashley not guilty in the 25-year-old murder case of Keith Jones.

Jones, a Marine Corps veteran and police academy graduate, was visiting Southwest Florida from Daytona Beach in 1997. On June 19, he was brutally beaten and murdered in a room at the Tides Motel.

The case went cold for decades until Fort Myers resident Michelle Ashley was arrested in 2019 and accused of one count of first-degree felony murder with a firearm. Jury selection for the trial began last month.

During the trial, state prosecutors argued that although Ashley was not the one who pulled the trigger that night, she was partly responsible for Jones’ death.

The state said Ashley tipped off four men to Jones’ whereabouts who then robbed him, beat him and shot him in the head. Defense attorney Robert Harris argued that the four men attacked Ashley that night as well.

Back in 2019, Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs said there are additional suspects involved in this case.