LAKELAND, Fla. (FOX 13) - The woman who was arrested after turning her estranged husband's guns over to police – claiming she was in fear for her safety – will only face a charge of trespassing, the state attorney announced Wednesday.
Brian Haas says Courtney Taylor Irby, who goes by Taylor, will be charged with misdemeanor trespassing, not the more serious counts of armed burglary and grand theft of a firearm that already landed her behind bars for five nights.
Last month, Taylor Irby told police that she had a temporary injunction against Joseph Irby, broke into his apartment while he was in jail, and collected his guns. Police, in turn, arrested her.
Haas, however, disputed Mrs. Irby's account of an altercation between the estranged couple back on June 14, saying that there was no divorce hearing, as she had claimed. He also said that she likely "over-exaggerated" the altercation in which Joseph Irby bumped his car into hers three times at a low speed after a domestic dispute.
"There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Irby tried to kill Mrs. Irby. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Irby tried to run Mrs. Irby off the road," Haas insisted.
On June 15, Haas says Taylor Irby had actually gone into her husband's apartment to retrieve a luggage carrier key but left with several more items she intended to pawn.
"Because of her ongoing frustration with Mr. Irby having allegedly cleaned out a joint marital bank account, Mrs. Irby helped herself to several items inside Mr. Irby's apartment," Haas said. "These items include at least two men's watches, a GoPro, possibly a computer, items belonging to the children and two guns."
According to Haas, it wasn't until Taylor Irby realized she may be in trouble that she turned the guns over to Lakeland Police.
"The narrative that Mrs. Irby went to the apartment to get the guns to protect herself and her children is false," Haas said.
Haas, however, decided to drop the other charges and let a civil court deal with the divorce.
"I am not charging Mrs. Irby in connection with any crimes related to the taking of objects located inside the apartment. The division of marital and mon-marital property is best left to the divorce judge," he added.
Taylor Irby's attorney, Larry Shearer, argues that her original intent was to collect personal items at the apartment.
"When she was there, she saw the guns and remembered the court said he could not have guns so then she decided to take them and she was advised to take them to the police department in his name," Shearer said.
"Mrs. Irby, with each step, thought she was doing the right thing," Shearer continued. "They are normal, generally good people."
We reached out to Joseph Irby's attorney, who was out of the office, but did not hear back.
While Haas stressed that Taylor Irby is the victim of domestic violence, he said that does not excuse her from trespassing or making a property grab while he was still in jail.
"We work hard to protect our domestic violence victims," Haas said. "We just don't tweet about it all the time. And, our law enforcement agencies are top notch."