Ashley Whiting’s mother admitted Tuesday to being a broken woman.
In front of a courtroom filled with her daughter’s friends and family, Andrea Kwasniewski tried to explain in between tears why Ashley’s murder left her feeling helpless and why her daughter’s husband, Daniel Whiting – the man convicted of killing her – deserved the 25-years-to-life sentence he received.
“No one will ever understand the devastation I feel every day,” Kwasniewski told the court. “I stand before you a broken person.”
Whiting’s sentence ends a prosecution that began with a report of an unknown, knife-wielding intruder attacking the Whitings inside their Lackawanna home last September and brutally stabbing Ashley to death.
Over time, investigators began to suspect that the real killer was Daniel Whiting and that his wounds were self-inflicted, part of an effort to divert attention from himself.
During the trial, prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable presented evidence that supported that theory, including DNA analysis, interviews with Whiting after the crime and the testimony of three inmates who claim Whiting admitted to the murder.
In the end, the jury rejected Whiting’s claims of an unknown killer and found him guilty of second-degree murder
For Kwasniewski, it was a long-awaited vindication, a verdict that gave her the ability to tell her grandchildren that Whiting will never be able to hurt them again.
She also talked about the void in her life and how Ashley’s son and daughter will now have to grow up without the mom who cherished them.
Prosecutors say the two children were sleeping nearby when Whiting stabbed his wife to death.
“As a mother," Kwasniewski told Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case, “I can’t stop thinking of what was going through her head as she lied there dying.”
Kwasniewski said her daughter’s death has been especially hard on Ashley’s son, and that it is obvious to her the murder had a lasting effect on him.
“Every night, he looks at her picture and says, ‘Good night, Mommy Angel,’” she said, her voice breaking with emotion.
During the trial, Whiting maintained his innocence and argued that an unknown killer broke into their house and attacked them.
Defense attorney Andrew LoTempio said the police were focused on his client “within about 45 minutes” of the killing, and never seriously looked for other suspects.
“I feel my innocence would have been proven if things had gone differently," Whiting told Case on Tuesday.
Case disagreed and, noting Whiting’s lack of responsibility and remorse, gave him the maximum possible sentence.