BARTOW, Fla. — Charges against a Polk County woman accused of stealing her husband's weapons and turning them over to authorities have been downgraded.
- Charges against Courtney Irby downgraded
- Irby, accused of taking husband's weapons, now facing misdemeanor
- Irby and her husband Joseph Irby going through bitter divorce, custody battle
Courtney Irby will now be charged with misdemeanor trespassing instead of theft and burglary, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Irby originally had faced the more serious charges after her arrest last month in a case that critics said unfairly pitted the safety of domestic violence victims against guns rights.
But State Attorney Brian Haas said at a news conference in Bartow that the case was more about a messy divorce than either of those issues and the marital discord was leading to charges against both spouses.
The prosecutor said he was filing an aggravated battery charge against Joseph Irby for hitting his wife's vehicle with his car at low speed a day before her arrest.
"This is case of a highly contested divorce, escalating to the point of husband and wife being charged with crimes," Haas said.
Parts of Courtney Irby's initial story were misleading when she said she took her husband's guns and turned them over to the police because she feared for her life, according to the prosecutor.
The Irbys had gotten into an argument at their child's day camp last month, and Joseph Irby followed his wife's car, tapping it three times at low speed, Haas said.
After her husband's aggravated battery arrest, Courtney Irby obtained a temporary injunction for protection against her husband, saying she was in fear of her husband because of his texting and made no mention of his guns, the prosecutor said.
Deciding she and her children needed to leave the area, Courtney Irby went with a friend to Joseph Irby's home to retrieve a luggage key. Because of frustration that her husband had "cleaned out" their bank account, Courtney Irby took two watches and a GoPro camera with the intent to sell them, as well as items belonging to her children. She also took the two guns, Haas said.
"Taking the guns was merely an afterthought," the prosecutor said.
When Courtney Irby returned to her home to finish packing, another friend found out about the guns and told Courtney Irby she should turn them over to the police, which she did, Haas said.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.