Prosecutors: Woman who turned in estranged husband’s guns to police misrepresented facts

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Lakeland couple involved in bitter divorce, custody battle

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side is following the twists and turns in a domestic violence case that’s made national headlines. Courtney Taylor Irby, who goes by Taylor, was arrested last month when police say she removed weapons from the apartment of her estranged husband, Joseph Irby.

“The narrative that Mrs. Irby went to the apartment to get the guns to protect herself and her children is false,” said Brian Haas, the state attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit in Florida. “It also appears that it wasn’t until she realized that she may be in trouble that she put forth her story that she entered the apartment for taking the guns.”

Right now, Mr. Irby is facing felony battery for allegedly ramming into his wife’s car in Bartow on June 14th.  Haas said there’s no evidence that he was speeding.  He allegedly followed his wife’s car for approximately three to four blocks.

“There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Irby tried to kill Mrs. Irby,” said Haas.

Although Mrs. Irby is the alleged victim of domestic violence in that case, she’s still facing misdemeanor trespass for entering his Lakeland home the next day.

Haas says Mrs. Irby did not go into the home with the intention of retrieving the guns.  

Prosecutors said the Irby’s were in the midst of an especially acrimonious divorce. 

Mrs. Irby filed for divorce in January.  She petitioned to get an injunction for protection against domestic violence. 

However, a judge denied that request with prejudice siting a lack of evidence on March 15, 2019. According to Haas, Mrs. Irby and a few of her friends went into Joseph’s home on June 15th and took two men’s watches, a GoPro and possibly a computer as well as two guns. The state attorney says it appears taking the guns was “merely an afterthought.”

“Mrs. Irby’s friend informed my office that the purpose of taking these items was to sell or pawn them to make money,” said Haas.

According to a friend, Mrs. Irby was upset that Mr. Irby had cleaned out a bank account.

The state attorney did note in his news conference that Taylor is a victim of domestic violence but stated that didn’t give her permission to go into his home. Haas talked about the dangerous ramifications of allowing spouses to break into one another’s homes.

Mr.s Irby was initially charged with three felonies.  Haas’s office will not pursue the theft and armed burglary charges. 

Mrs. Irby’s arrest quickly drew national attention and stirred controversy. Some questioned whether police made the right call arresting her.

“Do you think the system failed Mrs. Irby in any way?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“Well, I don’t know all the facts of that prior injunction petition and certainly I’m concerned for Mrs. Irby as well,” replied Haas at Wednesday’s news conference.

Haas also took aim at the controversy surrounding the story and the national attention it received.

According to Haas, much of that information was “inaccurate.”

“It is critically important to fully understand the facts of a situation before you attempt to exploit it.”

Haas said his office is always working to better serve and protect victims of domestic violence.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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