Ashley Hunter Sentenced to Two Life Terms in Prison Without Parole

Samuel Traut's family gave speeches to the court

FARGO, ND — The question “do you have any siblings” is one Sally Traut will never answer the same.

“What do I say? Do I say I don’t have any siblings just to simplify it? Do I say ‘one’ and just move on, making them think I don’t particularly enjoy my sibling,” Sally said.

For Sally’s mother MaryAnn, it’s hard to find the words answering a different question.

“My hardcore question to be asked is ‘how are you doing’. Unprovoked violent crime of this magnitude should be dealt with loss of freedom forever,” MaryAnn said. “Life in prison, without parole.”

That’s exactly the prison sentence Ashley Hunter has received for stabbing Clarence Flowers and attacking Samuel Traut with a hammer, two years ago.

“There is no way to discern that the defendant would not commit similar crimes in the future. There was no reason for these to occur,” said state’s attorney Birch Burdick.

In addition to the two life terms for the murders, Hunter received 10 years for arson, after trying to dispose of evidence by setting one of the victim’s homes on fire.

Hunter’s attorney argued that Hunter was under the influence of meth at the time and shouldn’t receive life without parole because the crime wasn’t premeditated.

“That’s not what we have here,” said Hunter’s lawyer Sam Gereszek.

“I would just like to say I know and understand your position and I respect it, but this isn’t what you think,” Hunter said.

Part of State’s Attorney Birch Burdick’s argument was that while the relatives of Flowers and Traut faced a huge loss, there’s another one to remember.

“It’s not just the loss of people who are already here and now,” Burdick said. “There’s a loss because we don’t know who in a sense, these two men, these two victims, would have become.”

Sally Traut knows she won’t be able to experience that, or her brother’s love again, until she sees Samuel in heaven someday.

“What a hard dose of reality for me, a 21 year old at the time, who must wait the majority of my life until I experience the love,” Sally said.

Hunter did apologize to both families during the sentencing saying he “wishes he took the necessary steps to prevent this”.

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