Ashley Cameron Found Not Guilty of First Degree Murder

(ONAWA, IA) The Verdict is in for the Onawa Mother accused of Drowning her 15-month-old baby in the bathtub.

Ashley Cameron faced a possible life sentence for first degree murder but the judge convicted her of lesser charges.

Ashley Cameron kept her head down most of the time but she did breathe a sigh of relief when the judge said she was not guilty of first degree murder.

"The court can not conclude based upon the evidence presented at trial acted with malice or aforethought. Therefore the defendant is not guilty of murder in the first degree," Judge Jeffrey Neary announced in court Friday.

Cameron opted for a bench trial instead of a jury trial. Judge Neary did convict her of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in death.

"I am very disappointed in the verdict. The evidence that I heard, there is no way that this child's death was caused because he was left alone unattended in a bathtub. That's not what caused the inordinate amount of water to be in his body that caused his death," says Marchelle Denker.

Denker's an Attorney for the Juvenile law center and has been involved in legal proceedings with the family. She says Friday's verdict does not do justice for young Markis Dahms.

"I am just concerned that she's going to spend 18 months to 2 years in prison and then she'll be out and that will be the end of her consequences for ending Markis's life," says Denker.

And while prosecutors say they must read the 19-page verdict the Judge presented in court, Ian McConeghey believes Markis was held under a running faucet.

"If you look at what 550 ML of water is, that's about the amount of water in a 20 oz bottle of mountain dew. Hold up a bottle of mountain dew next to a 15-month-old baby and you tell me what that looks like," says McConeghey.

Family members say they never believed Cameron intentionally killed her son.

"After the state gave their case, we expected the worst as a possibility and so to find out it was considerably lesser charge, we are very relieved and very happy for Ashley," they say.

"Life will go on but unfortunately Markis's life isn't going to go on," says Denker.

Cameron could face up to 52 years in prison with the possibility of parole. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 28th.

While Ashley Cameron's official sentencing is more than a month away it's members of the parole board, not the judge, who will decide how much time Cameron spends behind bars.

The involuntary manslaughter conviction carries a sentence of up to two years. Cameron has already been locked up for a year awaiting trial. The conviction for child endangerment resulting in death carries a mandatory 50 year sentence. However the parole board may use its discretion and set Cameron free on parole at any point during that sentence.