It is a murder so grotesque, whose motives were so deranged, it seems like something out of a horror movie: a woman faking a pregnancy, then murdering her pregnant friend on her wedding day and cutting the baby out of her womb to present as her own. Tragically, it was not some sick scenario crafted by a screenwriter, but the very real case of Ashleigh Wade, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison Wednesday for the murder of her friend Angelikque Sutton, as reported by New York’s WPIX 11.
"I'm so, so sorry. No words can say how sorry I am," said the 24-year-old Wade, weeping in court. "I'm sorry for hurting so many people. I wish I knew why." Jurors, however, were unmoved by her claims of emotional instability or the defense’s attempts to obfuscate the motives for the crime, saying at one point, “Was this an intentional murder with the goal of kidnapping this baby or did something else go wrong?” She was convicted on two counts of second-degree murder and kidnapping October 5 after a brief two-week trial, which had caused a juror to faint after seeing crime-scene pictures of the victim.
Wade put her plan in motion nine months before the murder, faking her own pregnancy, and setting up an online gift registry for a baby shower. In the meantime, she reconnected with childhood friend Sutton online. Eight months pregnant at the time of her murder, Sutton was on her way to the Bronx Courthouse to marry her boyfriend of eight years Patrick Bradley on November 20, 2015, when she stopped by Wade’s apartment to pick up a gift. Wade then viciously attacked her, stabbing her at least 50 times, making sure to slash her larynx so she could no longer scream. She then cut open Sutton’s stomach, removing her child from the uterus.
After murdering Sutton and delivering the baby, Wade called her boyfriend, saying she had given birth to their child. She also said she had done something terrible. When he saw the bloody scene at her apartment, he called emergency services. Police responded and found a knife and the discarded placenta in the apartment building. According to CBS New York, Wade was still screaming that the baby was hers, even as she was taken into custody. Miraculously, the baby survived her traumatic birth. Her father named her Jenasis. She turns two next week.
At Wade’s sentencing Wednesday, Bronx Supreme Court Justice Margaret Clancy said, “Jenasis will tragically be scarred by her birth,” and that, "She will inevitably know that the day of her birth will be forever tainted." She then sentenced Wade to 25 years to life for each count of murder, and 15 years for kidnapping. While the murder sentences may be served concurrently, the kidnapping sentence will be served seperately, meaning she will be inside prison for 40 years total. Upon leaving court, the victim’s father, Bishop William Sutton, told the New York Post, “I’m just glad that we got justice.”
[Photo: NY Department of Corrections]