West Burke Woman Charged With Portland Street Beating

Ashley M. Lee appears in Caledonia Superior Court by video from jail on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Photo By Todd Wellington)

Police say an argument over drug money led to the beating of a St. Johnsbury woman on Portland Street earlier this month.

West Burke resident Ashley M. Lee, 29, has now been charged in connection with the alleged assault which police say occurred near the former Valero gas station just after 4 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 8.

But the report filed by St. Johnsbury Police Sgt. Lester Cleary makes it clear that there may be other suspects related to the investigation including a man named “D” and a woman who goes by the name “Double Zero.”

Caledonia Superior Court

Lee is accused of assaulting Brittany Danforth, 29, with her car and then beating her with a leather “sap” (blackjack) leaving her bruised and bloodied.

“Danforth, in the dim light, had visible lumps estimated to be 3 inches in diameter on her forehead and was bleeding from the mouth,” wrote Sgt. Cleary in his report

Lee pleaded not guilty in Caledonia Superior Court on Thursday to charges of felony aggravated assault, felony use of a weapon while committing a crime and gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle. She was then released on conditions by Judge Timothy B. Tomasi.

But according to Sgt. Cleary’s report, Danforth told investigators that Lee wasn’t alone when the alleged assault occurred.

“Danforth then stated that Lee and Andrew Davis, 34, had assaulted her,” wrote Sgt. Cleary. “Danforth told me that Lee is dealing drugs for some drug dealer…She described Lee hitting her from behind with her dark-colored SUV. After being struck and knocked off balance Danforth described Lee exiting the vehicle and beginning to strike her in the head with the sap while Davis exited the car and began grabbing her bags and cellphone putting them into the car. Danforth again told me that Lee was yelling about the money.”

Police say that when Lee was arrested on Thursday, she denied assaulting Danforth.

“Lee stated I should talk to Davis who was with her,” wrote Sgt. Cleary. “I explained that I had been making numerous attempts to speak with Davis in this matter and he had failed to meet with me as of yet.”

Davis has, so far, not been cited into court to face charges in connection with the alleged incident but police say the investigation is continuing.

Danforth told police she had been staying with Lee prior to the alleged assault and using her car in exchange for transporting a female known as “Double Zero” around town.

“Danforth said she transported ‘double zero’ for what sounded like drug transactions,” wrote Sgt. Cleary in his report. “Danforth described taking ‘double zero’ to meet Lee’s boyfriend ‘D’ and then taking ‘double zero’ to various places resulting in the collection of some $420.00 dollars.”

According to the report, Danforth was in possession of the $420.00 dollars she was supposed to drop off with Lee when she was allegedly assaulted.

“D” is identified by police in court documents as Davon Bethea, 27, who investigators say they know from previous investigations.

A “sap” or “blackjack” is a small leather club filled with lead, sand or a metal bar that can deliver a crippling blow.

If convicted of all the charges Lee faces a possible sentence of up to 22 years in prison and over $15,000 in fines.

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