BEL AIR, MD — A woman convicted of using a crowbar to beat a 71-year-old man from Edgewood to death has been sentenced, according to Harford County prosecutors.
On Feb. 18, 2022, the Harford County sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call at 2310 Perry Ave. in Edgewood after the victim’s daughter found her elderly father’s body in his home. The victim, Gerald Champ, had not been heard from for days and his 2003 Ford Explorer was missing from the property.
An autopsy revealed that Champ’s death was due to blunt force trauma with prong-like defects embedded in his skull, including multiple skull fractures and defensive wounds to his hands and arms. The murder weapon, a crowbar, was discovered in Champ’s home. The suspect, Ashley Pearl Zentz, 36, had known the victim and his family for over 20 years.
Following a six-day trial in October, Zentz was sentenced to life, suspend all but 60 years to serve, for the first-degree murder charge and five years for the motor vehicle theft count, running consecutively. The state prosecution had requested a life sentence, suspend all but 72 years to serve, for the murder charge and five years for the theft count.
“This significant sentence is a huge victory for the safety of Harford County and removes a violent murderer from our community for decades to come,” said State’s Attorney Alison M. Healey. “It is my sincere hope that this sentence provides some closure to Mr. Champ’s entire family and affords them some peace in knowing the person responsible for his death was brought to justice.”
In conclusion, Ashley Pearl Zentz, 36, was sentenced to life in prison, with all but 60 years suspended, for the murder of Gerald Champ. She was also sentenced to five years for the theft of Champ’s vehicle, the two sentences to be served consecutively. The prosecution praised the sentence for providing closure to the victim’s family and ensuring the safety of Harford County.