Public Safety

Ashley Pennington sentenced to 25 years in prison after fleeing car-cycle crash

Family of Michael Olson has harsh words for her

Ashley Pennington

25-year sentence
Ashley Pennington 25-year sentence

CEDAR RAPIDS — Gloria Olson said Tuesday her husband, Michael, was “my everything, my love of 40 years.”

She continues to think about the struggle he must have gone through as he was “left to die on the street by Ashley Pennington,” after she turned her vehicle in front of her husband’s motorcycle, causing him to crash at C Avenue and 20 Avenue SW on Oct. 1, 2017.

“Ashley Pennington didn’t offer aid most people would give a dog after they hit it with a car,” Olson said in a victim’s impact statement during Pennington’s sentencing.

“I relive that nightmare in my mind, watching my love flying over his bike, laying bleeding in the street, struggling to breathe. I hope Ashley Pennington has those nightmares, too.”

6th Judicial District Judge Christopher Bruns on Tuesday sentenced Pennington to the maximum 25 years in prison, saying he did so based on Pennington’s extensive criminal history.

He noted multiple interventions for substance abuse treatment given her, along with deferred judgment and probation sentences, showing she is not “amenable to rehabilitation.”

Pennington, 25, of Cedar Rapids, earlier pleaded guilty in Linn County District Court to two separate cases to five charges, each with five-year prison terms, which Bruns ran consecutively.

The charges were second-degree theft, forgery, leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, attempt to elude and possession of a controlled substance.

According to court records, Pennington borrowed a 2000 Honda Accord from Jessie Philiph and failed to return the car. She then forged and cashed a check on Philiph’s account for $175 at the University of Iowa Credit Union.

Pennington, still driving the Honda, turned in front of Olson’s motorcycle, causing the Oct. 1, 2017, crash.

Witnesses told police Pennington ran away without giving information or aid, which is required by law, according to the complaint.

Olson, 61, died Oct. 17 of his injuries.

Police had evidence from a security video showing Pennington at the credit union.

She left behind her cellphone in Philiph’s vehicle, and she also admitted to family members she had fled the crash, according to a criminal complaint. 

During the sentencing, Pennington told the Olson family she was “very sorry about what happened,” but she knew there was nothing she could say to change it. She said she wasn’t a “monster,” and it “bugs me every day ... I cry to my mom every day about it.”

Olson’s daughter, Amelia Olson, spoke in her statement about how she, her siblings and her mother stayed by her dad’s side while he suffered for 17 days in intensive care.

“Having to see him in the bed with a post sticking out of his head to measure the pressure in his brain, the 22 broken bones he suffered ... that would have left him paralyzed if he had not passed away,” Amelia said.

His other two children also had harsh words for Pennington and asked the judge to give her the maximum sentence.

Bruns ran the 25-year Linn County sentence consecutively to the two-year Polk County drug sentence Pennington already is serving at Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville.

Before the drug conviction, Pennington was a witness in the Kendu Petties murder trial last year.

She drove Petties, 32, to a house where he fatally shot Sierrah Simmons, 20, and Quintrell Perkins, 22, both of Cedar Rapids, on April 2, 2014. He was convicted of two first-degree murder charges and is serving life in prison without parole.

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