New evidence in case of Lakeland mom arrested for taking alleged abuser’s guns

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LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area mom is waiting to find out whether she’ll face three felonies after turning in her estranged husband’s guns. 8 On Your Side Investigates has uncovered new evidence in a case that’s made national headlines.

Joseph Irby was arrested after he allegedly rammed his car into his estranged wife’s vehicle on June 14 in Bartow.  

8 On Your Side obtained pictures of his wife’s car after the alleged incident.  Police state scratches on the bumper helped prove the woman’s case.

“I am fearful that my husband is going to kill me,” said Courtney Taylor Irby.

Just hours after Mr. Irby’s arrest, court audio recordings show Mrs. Irby pleading with a judge.

“He has threatened me multiple times. And it has been a very, very long journey for me to be heard and believed,” she said.

The judge made it clear that Mr. Irby may not possess weapons.

As he sat in jail, Mrs. Irby broke into his home to take his guns and turn them into police.

She said she feared for her life. Still, she was taken into custody for theft and armed burglary. Many people are now questioning whether the Lakeland Police Department made the right call.  

All along, police and prosecutors have said they have to look at all of the evidence and preserve everyone’s rights.

8 On Your Side is breaking down the case and what both parties are claiming.

The Irby’s met in 2009. They got married within months. Soon, they had two children. Mrs. Irby filed for divorce in January. Right now, the couple is in the midst of a custody battle.  

8 On Your Side uncovered the first sign of trouble in a text message.

Mrs. Irby states Mr. Irby threatened suicide writing “I put a cord around my neck last night.” After this alleged incident, Mrs. Irby asked for sole custody in “the children’s best interest.” She also wanted an injunction for protection since he was allegedly dangerous. However, a judge found the evidence was insufficient and dismissed her request with prejudice. 

After Mrs. Irby’s arrest in June, Mr. Irby also asked for protection writing he believes she’s building a case to possibly kill him and claim “self-defense.”

Mr. Irby’s attorney tells 8 On Your Side he is not violent and this is just an ugly custody battle. He points to a Florida law that states you could lose custody if you’re convicted of a domestic battery.

Mrs. Irby’s attorney did not return our calls or email. Both parties are expected back in court later this month.

State prosecutors will soon announce whether they’ll proceed with the charges against Mrs. Irby.

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