On Oct. 21, a Glendale, Arizona, teenager was sentenced to 10 years in prison after accidentally strangling her 43-year-old boyfriend to death during sex.
Jessica Burlew, who is now 18, met Jason Ash online when she was 16 years old, and they began a sexual relationship, the Phoenix New Times reported. In January 2014, she accidentally strangled him to death during sexual intercourse.
Burlew reportedly told her mother that she and Ash were playing sex games, and Ash did not say the “safety word,” according to court documents cited by KPHO. The teen told police that after strangling Ash, she began cutting him with a razor blade to try to get him to wake up.
When she didn’t get a response, she continued to cut him to alleviate her stress from the situation. Burlew’s mother said Jessica had a history of cutting herself “as a release,” the court documents stated.
Burlew was charged as an adult with second-degree murder. She pleaded guilty to the charge in September.
During her sentencing on Oct. 21, prosecutor Jay Rademacher called the situation a “recipe for disaster," according to the Phoenix New Times. He refuted claims that Ash was a sexual predator, despite reports that Ash helped Burlew obtain drugs -- mostly heroin and meth.
“If you look at the texts [between Ash and Burlew], they don't paint a picture of a child molester,” Rademacher said in court during the sentencing hearing. “Jason seemed like a little puppy dog that would do anything for Jessica.”
“ ... I understand the age of consent, but this defendant lied about her age [and] she initiated a lot of the drugs, mutilation and sex [in the videos retrieved from her cellphone]."
Rademacher concluded his remarks by saying that the incident "wasn't an accident" because "at the end of the day, Jessica was holding the cord around his neck, and she killed him.”
Burlew’s public defender, Ashley Meyer, said that Burlew was the victim in this case. She listed seven factors for the judge to consider before sentencing the teen.
Meyer’s factors included, according to the Phoenix New Times:
1. That Burlew was only 16.
2. That she has no prior felonies on her record.
3. That she didn't have the capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of her actions because of the drugs he gave her.
4. That she has an extensive history of substance abuse.
5. That she has significant mental-health issues and had a dysfunctional childhood.
6. That the slaying was not premeditated and was, in fact, the result of a consensual act.
7. That the relationship between Burlew and Ash was completely inappropriate.
“He was 43, she was 16,” Meyer added in court. “Both are victims of different crimes.”
Judge McCoy gave Burlew a chance to speak before sentencing her. Burlew said that she was also lied to by Ash.
“He also lied about his age,” Burlew said. “He said he was 26 on the Internet site where we met, then he said he was 28. He kept saying he was 28, and I believed it.”
Burlew was sentenced to 10 years in prison.