Yajayra Dominguez, 32, gunned down Ashley at Mill Park; she was found guilty Friday of second-degree murder

Ashley Calanche: Facebook dispute
ended with deadly park encounter

January 28, 2015
Santa Paula News

“I really wanted to go to school today,” Ashley Calanche posted on her Facebook page September 27, 2013 at 9:16 a.m. 

To demonstrate her statement, Ashley, 21, an aspiring photographer, attached an emoticon, a frowning face, noting, “feeling super bummed” about not being able to make it to her class at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara.

She was able to make up for it though and after communicating with her teacher via email Ashley grabbed her camera and her sister Jerikah Holmes, and off they went to nearby Mill Park where Ashley was going to shoot photos on self-assignment. 

Although Ashley had seen some teenage troubles she had turned a positive corner, perhaps due to the small child she now had or the budding realization of her photographic talents, probably both.  

But either way, she was on her way up.

Not so for Yajayra Dominguez, 32, who like Ashley lived in Santa Paula.

Although she also had small children, Yajayra was known to carry a gun, sometimes even a knife, and she was quick to start fights with others in person and via social media. 

Yajayra even had a nickname, “La Boxer” a moniker that the troubled woman was proud of. She had allegedly threatened a woman in June 2012 and at other times stabbed or attempted to stab three others.

Although a Facebook argument Ashley was having with a friend of Yajayra’s had spilled over to include the older woman, they had never met in person.

Nevertheless it was a nasty encounter of words with Yajayra telling Ashley in a Facebook message, “my waistline is pretty crazy,” alluding to the gun she carried at her waist.

Beyond the Facebook communication the paths of Ashley and Yajayra had never crossed, but roughly within the same timeframe of Ashley posting on Facebook that she was unable to attend school that September day, Yajayra had reportedly threatened to shoot a male acquaintance. 

And then she went to Mill Park with a friend.

At about 1 p.m. by chance Ashley and Yajayra met at the park and after a brief confrontation that included hair pulling, Yajayra used her double-barreled Derringer to kill the aspiring photographer with one shot directly to the top of her head.

Yajayra is sitting in Ventura County Jail now, waiting to be sentenced on the guilty verdict to second degree murder that was returned by a jury Friday, a decision they made within hours of going behind closed doors.

She sobbed as the jury’s verdict was read in front of Ventura County Superior Court Judge Kevin DeNoce.

Yajayra will be sentenced February 24; the penalty for second-degree murder and intentionally discharging a firearm, is 40 years to life in prison.

Yajayra told the court the shooting had been an accident that the gun had gone off during the struggle. Ashley’s sister testified that Yajayra had asked her not to tell anyone she had pulled the trigger, as she feared she would lose her children. 

She fled the park but was captured that evening after a long standoff at her mother’s home where Yajayra threatened to commit suicide before she came out. 

It was a very unusual case, according to Police Chief Steve McLean who said it was one of the “rare, extremely rare,” instances in which the homicide victim and suspect were both women.

“The odds,” of such a murder he added, “have to be less than 1 percent.”

The death of Ashley brought her well-known family - in the area for generations - deep grief.

And, in lieu of comment her sisters offered a poem by Robert Frost titled “Nothing Gold Can Stay” -

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.”

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