ELLSWORTH, Maine — A woman convicted in a string of burglaries and robberies that ended with the shooting death of her boyfriend was sentenced Tuesday in Hancock County Superior Court to 7½ years in prison with all but two years suspended, and three years probation.

Ashley N. Crowley, 25, of Beals pleaded guilty to two charges of burglary, two charges of robbery and one charge each of stealing drugs, theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and criminal use of disabling chemicals.

The most serious charges involved a Dec. 13, 2010, incident in which Crowley and her boyfriend, Nicholas Richards of Machias, attempted to rob an Eastbrook man who they believed was a drug dealer holding $20,000-$50,000 in a safe, according to a police affidavit.

Crowley lured the man from his mobile home by telling him she had been involved in a car crash nearby, the affidavit states.

The man offered to help but was suspicious and, before leaving his home, placed a .357 Magnum handgun in his belt. When he stepped outside, Crowley sprayed him with pepper spray, and a man, assumed to be Richards, struck him repeatedly with a metal object.

“We have a gun and will shoot you,” Crowley allegedly told the victim.

“Baby, he didn’t go down,” she allegedly told her accomplice. “Shoot him, shoot him!”

The homeowner had trouble seeing, but fled to his nearby Jeep where he pulled the handgun from his belt and fired three or four shots at Richards, who made his way to the end of the driveway and collapsed.

Crowley loaded Richards into their car and called 911. At the urging of dispatchers, she pulled over on the side of the road on Route 200, where ambulance personnel found the car. Richards was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police later found a .38-caliber revolver at the scene, and an autopsy report of Richards noted an empty gun holster on his body. After her boyfriend’s death, Crowley confessed to Maine State Police.

Other charges involved robberies and burglaries, including the theft of oxycodone from a Sedgwick home, that occurred between Dec. 7 and 11, 2010. Hancock County Superior Court Judge Ann Murray ordered Crowley to pay $2,991 in restitution to three victims.

Crowley’s attorney, Jason Barrett of Eaton Peabody in Ellsworth, said the plea arrangement recognized the grave nature of his client’s involvement while acknowledging she was not the key actor in the Eastbrook incident. He also noted her full cooperation with police after her boyfriend was killed.

“She’s young, and she had no prior criminal history,” he said. “This allows her some opportunity, several years down the road, to turn the page and define her life in a more positive way, which is what she wants to do.”

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter @riocarmine.

Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and,...