Wright Words: Idaho woman learns to ‘stand’ again after betrayal, adultery and murder

Published: Tuesday, March 4 2014 4:00 p.m. MST

The late Emmett Corrigan, left, with Ashlee holding Kaleeya, and Bailey, Bostyn and Teage Corrigan in November 2009.

Family photo

In the early hours of March 12, 2011, Ashlee Birk of Meridian, Idaho, walked into her closet and pleaded with God for what she calls a "do over." She needed a heavenly explanation for all that had just shattered her forever family.

Birk fell to her knees and pled for peace, her face soaked in the rare kind of tears few of us ever have to experience. Despite the ice-cold shock of the night, the cries of her baby and the dueling, fierce floods of anger and grief, she felt a peace wash over her.

In that quiet closet, she was greeted by the loving presence of the still, small voice, and the feelings and impressions were both undeniable and eternal.

“Be still.” She almost heard the words and knew heaven was near. She did not doubt then or now that angels had been guarding her home and her family.

Why would she need such peace? Because moments earlier, Ashlee Birk learned from detectives in her living room that she’d just become a 28-year-old widow.

She understood it would be hard, but felt spiritual confidence she would have the strength to keep moving forward. Somehow, she would find faith for a promised brighter day, as long as she kept protecting her sweet children and having faith in God.

Certainly, her faith would be tested in ways she never imagined. Earlier that evening, her husband, Emmett Corrigan, had been shot in a Walgreen’s parking lot in Meridian.

Birk knew, despite the moment, she was not alone, and the feelings provided such comfort. She'd been watched over and knew that her Creator was pleased with her. Suddenly, Birk was struck with the sense that it was time to decide if her testimony has been in her perfect life and her husband, or if her testimony had been in her Heavenly Father.

The detectives' words had stung. Her husband had been shot and killed? By whom? Not by some strung-out stranger, not in some robbery or random act of drive-by violence, but by an angry man. A jury eventually found Robert Hall guilty of second-degree murder in connection with Corrigan's death.

“Ashlee, be still. Breathe," she told herself, and she felt the overwhelming assurance she'd done all that she could. She'd done her best and heaven was proud of her. Despite what she'd been led to believe, she'd been a good wife and mother.

A mother? Yes, the newly initiated widow had five children, the youngest of which was 6 weeks old, waiting on her to explain, to recover, to raise and to help heal.

“You are still you,” she reminded herself, and this tragedy could not define who she would become. She was still the Ashlee she'd always been, and her only hope was to believe in herself. She could never doubt who she was simply because of the deep pain and anger.

Why was that man, Robert Hall, especially angry? Because he knew what Birk didn’t. He’d learned that his wife, Kandi Hall, had been having an affair with Corrigan, Ashlee Birk’s husband. The two men’s rage-fueled confrontation that night in a suburban drugstore parking lot ended not with confessions and apologies but with gunshots and screams.

Still on her knees in a dark closet, Birk knew how hard it would be, but that the Lord needed her to find forgiveness and peace.

Peace? Moments earlier she’d heard from strangers, in a burst, barely a breath between each of the revelations, that her husband was dead.

Not just dead — killed.

Not just killed — shot by a lover’s spouse.

Not just a lover, but a woman Birk knew, a woman who’d been an employee of her husband’s law firm.

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