Judge grants Ambrea Shanks probation after failing to write apology letter

A judge decided Monday not to revoke probation for a woman involved in the shooting death of Kentucky State Trooper Cameron Ponder.

Ambrea Shanks was called back into court Monday. The judge suspended a 10-day jail sentence, as long as she abides by the rules of her probation.

Shanks was in the car with her uncle Joseph Johnson-Shanks the night troopers say he shot and killed Ponder in September. After the shooting , Johnson-Shanks ran into the woods. Troopers shot and killed him following an hours-long manhunt.

Shanks was sentenced to five years of probation after pleading guilty to hindering prosecution. Monday’s court date was all about this letter of apology.

As part of her probation, Shanks was supposed to write, sign, and send the letter to Ponder’s family, friends, and coworkers. She did, but did not meet the deadline. Commonwealth Attorney Carrie Ovey-Wiggins said she checked the court records 30 days after Shanks was supposed to send the letter. Shanks never sent it.

Ovey-Wiggins says Shanks admitted to back-dating the letter to April 9 in court and admitted to not leaving it at the same address under the conditions of her probation. Ovey-Wiggins said Monday she felt Shanks was just putting on a good face for the judge.

“I feel like she walked out of the courtroom and basically forgot about all the conditions on her. She just didn’t do it," Ovey-Wiggins said. "I don’t think that’s acceptable.”

Kentucky State Police Capt. Janet Barnett said Ponder’s family and fiancée were also in the courtroom. She said it’s not about the piece of paper; it’s about keeping Shanks accountable for her actions in Ponder’s death.

Barnett said Kentucky State Police still consider trooper Ponder’s case an open investigation. She said they’ll close it when the appeals process is finished, and the court says they do not need that evidence.

As part of Shanks’ probation, she must also submit to random drug tests and check in with a probation officer regularly.

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