Covering the Land of Lincoln

Man convicted of murdering Ashely Hardin, Rayshawn Smith, dies in prison

The Rockford man who pleaded guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Ashley Hardin has died.

A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Corrections confirmed Rayshawn Smith died in custody on Christmas Day. Details regarding Smith’s death are still unknown.

Hardin was reported missing from her Rockford residence in the early morning hours of July 23 by her son, who told the police that he and his mother smelled gas and went outside to investigate. He said he saw his mother next to a car, and then she didn’t come back inside the home.

More:Mother of Rockford murder victim says daughter was killed protecting her 3 kids

Ashley Hardin’s mother told the Rockford Register Star that Smith had planned to pour gasoline on the house and light it on fire, but that her 38-year-old daughter caught him in the act and left with him so her three children who were inside the home would be safe.

According to court documents, milk jugs containing gasoline were found on the property. At least one of the jugs was poured on the house.

Hardin’s body was discovered later that day behind a business in the 5100 block of E. Rockton Road in Roscoe. She had two gunshot wounds and other injuries.

Also, later that day, Smith posted a video on Facebook indicating “People are going to wonder why I did what I did” and referred to Hardin in the video. According to police, Smith was then found in his vehicle with evidence linking him to the crime.

On Dec 15, Clifford sentenced Smith to 60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, which is the maximum possible sentence for first-degree murder, and additionally sentenced him to natural life in prison for the firearm enhancement.

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