Daniel Ash was 17 when he murdered 6-year-old Wendy Mancil in 1982 near Carrville.
Ash was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole by Fifth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Steve Perryman more than 37 years after he committed the crime.
Ash pleaded guilty just months after the murder in 1982 and agreed to a life without parole sentence. But thanks to U.S. Supreme Court rulings, juvenile offenders sentenced to life in prison without parole are allowed new sentencing hearings to ensure age, mental capacity and maturity were taken into account when the offenders were sentenced.
Ash spoke at Wednesday’s final hearing before Perryman sentenced Ash for the second time.
“I’m extremely sorry,” Ash told Perryman. “Face it. Being sorry doesn’t change this. I know if I ever get out I want to try to make up for it. I know nothing I do will but I would like to try.”
Perryman held a hearing in November 2019 listening to arguments from Ash’s defense team and prosecutors. Perryman took into account numerous documents and evidence since Ash’s incarnation in May 1982 just days after Wendy’s death.
“I read every page that was filed,” Perryman said. “It was pretty voluminous. You were 52 days from being 18 years old. Your case started out in a juvenile setting and after a hearing was transferred to adult (court).”
Perryman said he took into account the juvenile judge’s observations in 1982 which were Ash was physically mature and mentally and emotionally above his age.
“The Court of Criminal Appeals upheld that ruling,” Perryman said. “I find the sentence of life without parole is appropriate. You may appeal my ruling as well.”
One of Ash’s attorneys, William Clay, said the defense team was not trying to adjudicate the case but wanted to make sure Perryman took certain things into account before levying sentence on Ash.
“We are dealing with a 17-year-old at the time of the offense,” Clay said. “It started in juvenile court. After a couple of infractions in prison in the mid-1980s, he has about 30 years of the cleanest prison record one could ever have.”
At the November hearing Wendy’s mother Debra Huey described Saturday, May 29, 1982 – the day the 6-year-old Wendy disappeared while riding her bicycle at home near Carrville.
“She was going outside to play,” Huey said in November. “I was making a picnic lunch for an outing later in the day.”
Wendy never came home. Wendy was reported missing and according to stories in the Dadeville Record at the time more than 300 searched for her including Ash who was Wendy’s neighbor.
“On Sunday afternoon after she was confirmed missing, (Ash) came to the house offering tea,” Huey said. “He said he was going to help look for her.”
Law enforcement also talked to Ash. As a juvenile, Ash’s father, who retired from the Air Force and held an appointment as a Methodist pastor in Carrville, signed documents waiving Ash’s Miranda rights just three days after Wendy’s disappearance, the sameday Wendy’s body was found on property Ash was living on and a little more than a month before Ash’s 18th birthday. Ash confessed to killing Wendy just days earlier using rope and a sock to tie her up.
A post-mortem exam revealed Mancil died by ligature strangulation.