On Saturday, February 18th, 2017, Ashley Fricke was found dead inside her car in the parking lot of the Ashland, Virginia Walmart. She was a beautiful twenty-four-year-old white female. She had just graduated from college and was engaged to be married.
Brittany Lashea Wiggins, a twenty-five-year-old black female, turned herself into police after seeing pictures of herself from surveillance cameras on tv.
Wiggins was charged with First-Degree Murder, Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony and Shooting into an Occupied Vehicle. The surveillance camera captured Wiggins exiting the Walmart while looking her cell phone. She gets into her car. Three minutes later she backs out of the parking space, sticks a gun out of the window, and fires a single shot. The bullet hit Fricke in the head and killed her. Then Wiggins drives away at a high rate of speed.
Now, Judge Hugh S. Campbell has thrown out the first-degree murder charge and use of a firearm charge. Wiggins alleges that two males were harassing her in the parking lot for being a lesbian. She claims that she feared for her life and fired “a warning shot.” We are supposed to believe that Fricke was unintended collateral damage of a non-criminal, non-premeditated act of self-defense.
The alleged male abusers have not been identified or charged with any crimes.
Adam Aigner, an investigator for the Ashland police department says that the two males admit to being in a mutual yelling match with Wiggins. They say it had nothing to do with her being a lesbian. Wiggins admits that the males never displayed any guns. Aigner says that when Wiggins was originally interviewed she told him that she did not even remember what the males were yelling about.
The males remained near their vehicle during the alleged altercation. The location of the two males and their vehicle was approximately eighty feet away. Ashley Fricke was sitting in her car in a parking space between the two males and Wiggins.
Prosecutor Mackenzie Babichenko told the Judge that Wiggins sat in her car for three minutes. Instead of simply driving away, she fired a shot as she was pulling out and then sped off. Babichenko argued that Wiggins did not fear for her life. Wiggins had a clear path to drive away and was under no threat of violence. Even if she did fear for her life, under Virginia state law, Wiggins had a legal duty to try to leave the area before using a gun.
Despite all the evidence that Wiggins’ actions were premeditated and criminal, Judge Campbell will not allow Wiggins to be prosecuted for murder. He said he only saw evidence of “shooting at a vehicle.” This is a class 4 felony in Virgina that carries a minimum sentence of two years. The prosecution could potentially file a negligent manslaughter charge, which is a class 6 felony in Virgina. This only has a minimum sentence of one year.