A Washington C.H. woman pleaded “not guilty” Monday to eight third-degree felony counts of endangering children, and her trial date has been set for Dec. 14.
At her arraignment hearing in Fayette County Common Pleas Court, Ashley Smith, 32, also filed an affidavit of indigence setting forth assets, earnings and expenses. The court found that Smith was entitled to the appointment of counsel and appointed Kathryn Hapner as her attorney.
As previously reported by the Record-Herald, Ashley Smith and her husband, Joshua Lee Smith, 37, have been indicted for an alleged pattern of cruel and physical abuse of their four children.
Joshua Lee Smith is charged with second-degree felonious assault and eight counts of endangering children — all felonies of the third degree. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Fayette County Common Pleas Court on Oct. 31 at 11 a.m.
On Aug. 2, Washington Police Department officers responded to a residence within the city to assist Children Services (Fayette County) in removing four children from the home. Officers were made aware that the children had allegedly been abused, with one of the children possibly receiving serious physical harm, according to reports.
The Children Services investigation began after the children had placed a letter in a neighbor’s mailbox advising that their father, Joshua Lee Smith, physically abused them.
The abuse of the children allegedly involved physical harm (including the use of a knife by Joshua Lee Smith), torture, cruelty and prolonged punishment or restraint, according to authorities.
Ashley Smith’s next pretrial hearing is set for Oct. 17 and her final pretrial is scheduled for Nov. 14.