A Bay County man accused of sexually battering a child was found guilty at trial Tuesday and sentenced to life in prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.
Ashden Pippins, 25, was found guilty as charged of the capital offense of sexual battery on a child under the age of 12. The 6-person jury took less than 30 minutes of deliberation on the case presented by prosecutor Barbara Beasley, joined in court by prosecutor Jacob Cook.
Circuit Judge Ana Maria Garcia sentenced Pippins to life in prison without the possibility of parole and designated him as a sexual predator.
Beasley presented evidence that the defendant not only sexually battered the child but admitted it to the victim’s mother and Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigator Christian Williams, who both testified at the trial.
The mother testified that the victim had missed her menstrual cycle for two months in July 2020 and she felt something was wrong, so she administered a home pregnancy test on the girl. It returned “invalid” results, according to testimony, and the mother was going to get another one. But when the defendant found out he made a statement about his contact with the child that caused the mother to seek help from law enforcement.
“I submit to you that’s when the defendant got scared,” Beasley told jurors in her closing argument. “He was going to be found out.”
The Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center conducted a “forensic” interview with the child and Pippins was then questioned by Investigator Williams. Beasley played an audio of that interview for jurors in which the defendant told Investigator Williams he and the victim “fornicated,” and gave details of the sexual battery.
Other testimony showed the defendant later contacted the child’s mother asking if the victim was pregnant because he wanted to know “if he had ruined her life.”
“I said, ‘You ruined her life the last time you ever touched her,’ “the mother testified. “And that’s the last time I ever spoke to him.”
Pippins, represented by public defenders Seth Killion and Ashlin Morgan, took the stand and said he never had sex with the victim. He said he was either confused from being tired or from snorting pain killers when he gave his taped statement admitting to the crime. The defense waived its right to a closing argument, sending it to the jury.