BURLINGTON, Ky. — Joshua Ward, a Forest Park, Ohio, man found guilty of murder in the 2018 shooting deaths of a Burlington, Kentucky, woman and her 9-year-old son, was sentenced to life in prison without the chance for parole by a Boone County judge Thursday morning.
Boone County Sheriff's deputies arrested Joshua Ward in 2018 and charged him with two counts of murder after his ex-girlfriend, Kelli Kramer, and her son, Aiden, were found shot to death in their Northern Kentucky home.
The family said they've been holding out hope for the moment they got answers and justice.
"That's what we were going for," said Marilyn Kramer, Kelli's mother, after Ward was convicted. "That's what we're hoping for. Aiden didn't get the chance to live his life. We're here to see if we could get justice. We did."
Boone County prosecutors called it a crime of passion; the defense argued the defendant was wrongly accused and got caught up in a web of sex, drugs and overlooked suspects.
Prosecutors said Kramer was one of several women that the married-Ward dated simultaneously. Ward's plan — he admitted under oath — had involved having multiple women move into his home and form a polyamorous family. Ward and Kramer broke up in mid-2017 after, Ward claims, he found she was also seeing other people and may have been involved in prostitution.
"They have a strange relationship where he's her 'daddy,' and she's the little girl," said defense attorney Daniel Schubert.
Ward denied on the stand that the breakup had created a motive for him to kill Kramer or her son. He claimed never to have contacted her afterward and said he was "devastated" when he learned of her and Aiden's deaths.
But Commonwealth's Attorney Leanne Beck said Ward began stalking Kramer after their breakup and pointed to shell casings found in a Brown County yard — where Ward had been known to go target shooting — that forensics showed matched those found at the crime scene.
"This was not a drug deal gone bad; this was not a crime of opportunity," she said. "This was something more."
Beck went on to argue that a "drug deal gone wrong" wouldn't be enough to motivate killing a 9-year-old boy.
"The one pure thing Kelli did in this world was Aiden," Beck said to the jury. "He was 9 when he was murdered... (a) light dimmed too early."