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Jan. 16, 2022

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Vancouver woman sentenced to 20 years for mother’s 2018 killing

By , Columbian staff writer

A Vancouver woman was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison for the 2018 killing of her 75-year-old mother.

Asenka Miller Wilber, 53, pleaded guilty last month in Clark County Superior Court to second-degree domestic violence murder.

Before Judge Jennifer Snider ordered the agreed-upon 240-month sentence, Miller Wilber told the judge, “I feel nauseated. What’s done is done, and I have a ton of regret. I’m sorry.”

Snider followed the recommended sentence, in part, she said, because Miller Wilber had finally taken responsibility for her mother’s slaying.

Miller Wilber had been living with her mother, Carol Hardin, and reported Sept. 27, 2018, that her mother died. Clark County sheriff’s deputies responded to their home, 14308 N.E. 80th St., to investigate the death. There, they found Hardin with obvious injuries to her face and head, and another possible injury to her wrist, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office examined the woman’s body and discovered additional injuries, the sheriff’s office said. The medical examiner ruled that Hardin suffered from sudden death during assault, according to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Smith.

Miller Wilber was arrested Sept. 30, 2018, following a search of her home and interviews with her and other family members.

She allegedly told detectives that her mother was physically abusive throughout her life. Earlier in the week, the two were reportedly in a physical fight. Miller Wilber said she punched her mother in the head until she stopped moving, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Miller Wilber checked Hardin’s pulse, she said, and confirmed she was dead.

“Instead of seeking medical aid or calling 911, (Miller Wilber) said she was confused and began digging a grave in the backyard for her mother,” the affidavit says.

After digging the grave for an entire day, she became too tired to continue, she said. The affidavit does not indicate how long it took from the time Miller Wilber stopped digging to when she called deputies. She went to a neighbor’s house to make the call, according to the affidavit.

Smith spoke Thursday about the ways Miller Wilber’s story to family and law enforcement changed multiple times and said that Miller Wilber initially gave police a false name and claimed to be mute. Smith said Miller Wilber was later found in possession of an eviction letter from her mother telling her to move out by the end of the month.

Hardin had previously petitioned the court for a protection order against her daughter, the prosecutor said. A full protection order was denied when Hardin didn’t show up for the hearing.

Miller Wilber’s defense attorneys told the judge of her struggles with mental illness, which they said included a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

She told the judge she wishes both she and her mother had been able to get help before the slaying.

Daryl Hardin, Miller Wilber’s brother, told the judge he hopes that after Thursday’s hearing, he can gain a sense of closure.

“My life is divided into two parts — before the phone call and after the phone call,” he said.

He said he was mourning not only the loss of his mother but also the loss of any relationship with his sister.