Tanner Flores was eighteen when he fatally shot his ex girlfriend. According to court documents Tanner Flores was not happy that his ex girlfriend, Ashley Doolittle broke up with him. Tanner convinced Ashley to go for a ride with him and somewhere along the way he would fatally shoot the eighteen year old woman. Flores would drive to his Grandparents ranch and bury her body. This teen killer would initially tell police that the shooting was an accident but that story fell apart pretty quickly. Tanner Flores would be convicted of kidnapping and murder and would be sentenced to life in prison plus thirty two years.
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A Larimer County judge on Thursday sentenced Tanner Flores to life in prison without parole in the shooting death of Flores’ ex-girlfriend Ashley Doolittle.
The 19-year-old Berthoud man had been found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder as well as felony kidnapping by a jury Wednesday, following seven days of trial that revealed Flores failed to accept a breakup with Doolittle in June 2016.
Doolittle’s mother, Ann Marie Doolittle, addressed the court on behalf of her family before Judge Greg Lammons issued the sentence.
“No one can begin to imagine the pain and agony one goes through after losing a child,” Ann Marie Doolittle said.
She emphasized her daughter’s love for her horses and that she had just built a new house on a property for boarding horses.
“She never really had the chance to enjoy it,” Ann Marie Doolittle said of the house. “He destroyed two families. When he killed Ashley, he killed a part of me. He took away our son’s best friend. We will never get the chance to enjoy with her the bright future she had. Now the court proceedings are embedded in our minds.”
Ashley Doolittle is survived by her brother Michael Doolittle, a high school student, as well as her mother and father, Jeff Doolittle.
The 18-year-old was the Boulder County Fair and Rodeo Lady-in-Waiting at the time of her death and was posthumously crowned rodeo queen. She planned on studying agricultural business at Colorado State University following her May 2016 graduation from Berthoud High School, and had deposited her high school graduation money only moments before she was killed.
“On June 9, 2016, Ashley Doolittle had everything to live for. She had done nothing she deserved to die for,” prosecutor Cliff Riedel, 8th Judicial District Attorney, had told the jury in his closing argument.
Ann Marie Doolittle expressed sympathy for Flores’ relatives, and even her daughter’s killer himself. Members of both families were present each of the seven days of trial, which ended Wednesday with convictions on all charges.
“Our hearts go out to the Flores family. A part of me feels bad for Tanner, but that does not mean he should not be punished for his actions,” Ann Marie Doolittle said.
Flores appeared wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and did not address the court ahead of hearing his sentence, nor did anyone else on his behalf. Lammons imposed 32 years for the felony kidnapping charge and crime of violence enhancer on top of the life sentence.
The judge did not address the court or reprimand Flores before reading his fate.
“There is nothing I can say that Ms. Doolittle didn’t already say to encompass this case,” Lammons said.
The jury dismissed Flores’ defense that although he fatally shot Doolittle, he didn’t plan to, and was therefore only liable for second-degree murder and a prison sentence of up to 48 years.
It is currently unknown which of the state’s Department of Corrections facilities Flores will serve his sentence in, said Mark Fairbairn, spokesman for the department. After Flores is registered within the Colorado prison system, he will be put into a facility to suit his medical and mental health needs with the proper level of security to suit his past behavior while in custody, Fairbairn added.
Tanner Flores, who had dropped out of Berthoud High School, possessed mechanical skills and knowledge desired by several potential employers before his arrest, his friends and family testified.
Prosecutors made the case Flores grew jealous and angry when he discovered Doolittle wanted to pursue relationships with other men, and began developing a plan to kill Doolittle and himself, as well, but stopped short of committing suicide when Doolittle survived his initial gunshot to her head.
“She started twitching and freaking out, so I shot her again,” Flores said in police interviews. “I thought it would be an instant thing.”
Testimony in the trial revealed text messages sent between Flores and Doolittle as well as Flores and his other friends contained hints he was contemplating suicide following his breakup with Doolittle.
“The only thing Ashley did wrong was care too much,” Ann Marie Doolittle said. “She told me she didn’t want to hurt Tanner, she just didn’t want to date him anymore.”
In fact, Doolittle ended her relationship with Flores twice in the four days before her death, a stretch of time prosecutors narrowed in on to prove he deliberated upon the homicidal act.
Defense attorneys for Tanner Flores backed his claim that he had no plan to kill his ex-girlfriend, calling his actions “hasty and impulsive” and those of a “confused and heartbroken young man.”
There have been 353 first-degree murder convictions in the state over the past 10 years, according to data provided by analysts with the Colorado Judicial Branch.
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The final chapter in the Tanner Flores trial happened within a 13 minute time-frame in courtroom 5B at the Larimer County Justice Center Thursday afternoon. 8th District Court Judge Greg Lammons sentenced Flores to life without parole for the June 2016 murder of Ashley Doolittle.
The 19-year-old was convicted of first degree murder, felony murder and second degree kidnapping of Doolittle, his ex-girlfriend. The jury deliberated for almost six hours between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon following a 7 day long trial.
Ann Marie Doolittle, Ashley’s mother, gave a powerful statement on behalf of her family. She stood at the podium just a few feet away from Flores who was seated between his lawyers, in a bright orange jumpsuit with feet and hands in restraints, his parents seated directly behind him. “Tanner did more than murder Ashley, he destroyed two families,” she said. Family and friends of both teens attended the trial that several times left standing-room only in the courtroom.
Ms. Doolittle spoke about her daughters love for horses and the fact her family had just completed building a home where Ashley could have enjoyed her horses. “You took away our son’s best friend, we will never have the joy of seeing our daughter’s children or walk her down the aisle … we won’t get to tell her how proud we are of her,” Ms. Doolittle continued. Ashley’s brother Michael, a high school student, and her father Jeff watched silently from their seats as the statement was being read.
Ashley Doolittle graduated from Berthoud High School in May 2016 and had plans to attend Colorado State University. She was the Boulder County Fair and Rodeo Lady-in-Waiting at the time of her death and was crowned Queen posthumously in 2017.
Ms. Doolittle said Ashley always cared about other’s feeling and had told her she didn’t want to hurt Tanner but wanted to end the relationship. Ms. Doolittle said, “Our hearts go out to the Flores family … a part of me feels sorry for Tanner but that does not mean he should not be punished for his actions.”
She closed her statement by saying, “We want him to carry out the rest of his life in prison,” also saying they hoped this would be an example to other young men to show, “It is not okay to hurt your girlfriend if she no longer wants to be with them.”
Tanner Flores was asked if he wanted to make any statements, to which he declined.
Judge Lammons made very few remarks aside from saying, with the severity of the charges Tanner Flores was convicted of, he had very little discretion in the sentencing. He also stated that, “There is nothing I can say that Ms. Doolittle didn’t already say.” Tanner Flores has served 482 days already and will spend his remaining days in prison serving out his life sentence.
Tanner Flores was convicted of shooting Ashley Doolittle three times in the head while she was a passenger in his truck. The two had been in a tumultuous relationship that Doolittle had ended. Flores drove Doolittle’s body to a family owned property on the western slope where he was soon thereafter found by police and taken into custody