Woman Acquitted of First-Degree Murder Charge in Controversial Self-Defense Case

Victims of domestic violence sometimes use guns in self-defense against their spouses or even parents. After a six-day trial and a four-hour deliberation, a jury decided Monday that this was what happened between Ashley Hunter of Foristell, Missouri and her late husband, Nicholas Hunter. The couple had been wedded for under a year when the fatal shooting transpired three years ago. Since then, Ashley had been in jail on a first-degree murder charge, with a one million-dollar bond.

While on the stand, Ashley testified that Nicholas had physically and sexually assaulted her, choking her so hard that he lifted her off the ground. He insisted she turn over the passwords to her phone and all email accounts and needed to know where she was all the time, she continued. On the night of the incident, while on the phone with a 9-1-1 operator, Ashley had said “he just kept hitting me.” Finally, she added that Nicholas had shoved a banana down her throat during the confrontation that led to his death.

At some point, the two struggled over a gun, which Nicholas dropped. At that points, Ashley picked it up and started shooting.

“I was so scared,” Ashley told the dispatcher. “I didn’t know what to do.”

The autopsy of Nicholas revealed six gunshot wounds, two in the side and four in the back.

“Ashley Hunter chose life,” said defense lawyer Scott Rosenblum. “She instinctively grabbed the gun and started shooting to protect herself.”

The trouble is that following the shooting, Ashley appeared to have no signs of injury – “not a single mark” – from the alleged attack. Additionally, Ashley admitted on the stand that she had told Nicholas’ cousin, Shannon Brady, that her husband had never laid a finger on her. For that reason among others, Ms. Brady was stunned by Monday’s verdict. Was Ashley hiding the abuse from family members?

Only 11 days before Nicholas’ death, Ashley had gushed about him all over social media. “I am blessed to be married to my best friend,” she wrote alongside their photos. “Our love grows more and more everyday. We have our own fairytale and a marriage built around God. I love this man!!”

On top of all that, Prosecutor Kelly King argued that the shooting was a case of premeditated murder. 30 minutes before the shooting, King reported, Ashley asked her husband via text, “Why did you marry me?” after which Nicholas Hunter replied, “I have no idea.”

“There was one side of my husband that was kind and loving and beautiful and generous,” Ashley responded. “He was an amazing man, with a heart that was big and beautiful … but something would switch in his mind, and the other side of him was heartless.”

“She would live for the nights when it was amazing,” Rosenblum said in Ashley’s defense – a sentiment to which many victims of intimate violence can relate. “When it was bad, it was mostly because of his moods, his crazy outbursts of rage. He hated his life.”

Rosenblum also argued that Nicholas had unpredictable moods and became violent due to his use of steroids and alcohol. At the time of the incident, Rosenblum said, investigators failed to seize the syringes which Nicholas had been using to inject the steroids.

“I always knew the truth could set you free,” Ashley said to the the St. Louis Post Dispatch following her release from jail.

comments

  1. avatar Bolt Upright says:

    Red Flag Alert

    “We have our own fairytale and a marriage built around God. I love this man!!”

    Does the man have a name?

    But no shot to the back of the head? Suspicious?

  2. avatar Gordon in MO says:

    Physical evidence can be concealed/misused/misinterpreted/missed.
    Abuse and anger can go both ways.
    No one else was there.
    We will never know what really happened.

    If she does it again might be a hint.

    1. avatar Binder says:

      Self defense is an affirmative defense. The fact that she testified that she was physically assaulted (and rather brutally) yet there is no physical evidence of the assault would make it hard for me to believe her.

      I think the real problem is that the arrest procedures needs to be re-examined. She was arrested a week after the shooting so in theory the injuries would no longer exist.

      If she was arrested at the start and physically examined, I don’t think she would be walking.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Well, when she’s shot her husband dead and is claiming self defense, it does seem like she should have been examined right then. OTOH, different people are different. My wife bruises if you look at her. If somebody punched each of us equally hard (say, hard enough to hurt pretty bad), the next day people who saw us would be wondering how she survived, but they would not be able to detect that anything had happened to me. This has been true the entire 51 years we’ve been married, and before that. She’ll come up with horrendous bruises and not be able to recall where she got them, the actual injury was so slight. So, what you can see should not be your only concern when someone claims self defense.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          Same here. I’ve actually been exiled from doctor’s offices before while the doctor (not my wife’s regular doctor, who knows her well) asked a bunch of probing questions about possible abuse based on a multitude of bruises on arms and legs. She bruises if you only look sideways at her, and she usually has no idea where any of them came from.

          I’m exactly the opposite. Anything short of getting beaten with a 2×4 isn’t likely to leave a mark. And then you have Strych9 below, who could probably tear me limb from limb if he wanted to (please don’t) but apparently also bruises like my soft, cuddly wife.

          Bruising or lack thereof doesn’t say much of anything by itself.

  3. avatar DDay says:

    To claim to be part of that violent of an incident and have no injuries? That doesn’t seem at all realistic.

    1. avatar Gadsden says:

      Keep in mind the news source could be leaving out critical information, either through ignorance or on purpose. Especially these days when there is no such thing as accurate journalism or impartial sources.

  4. avatar strych9 says:

    It seems odd that she had no visible injuries but when I think about it if my wife and I got in a fight I could beat on her pretty badly and not leave bruises whereas if she sneezed at me I’d look like she hit me with a bat. Based on “physical evidence” she’d prolly get the shit end of the stick under any circumstances.

    Heck, I’ve worn dress shirts for days after BJJ just to cover the bruises on my neck because at one point after a day of practicing collar chokes my boss asked if I had tried to hang myself. I laughed until I realized he was actually serious.

    1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

      “Heck, I’ve worn dress shirts for days after BJJ…”

      …and what is “BJJ”, do I dare ask?

      “Batter Janet Judiciously”?

      “Basic Jealousy Jam”?

      1. avatar Gadsden says:

        I was gonna say, a BJJ that left bruises on his neck!?!? Someone’s doing something wrong here.

      2. avatar blakhart says:

        Brazilian Jujitsu.

        Grappling. Chokes. Submission holds.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          For the guys that are too cheap to go to a dominatrix.

        2. avatar M1Lou says:

          Are you sure a dom is more expensive than a BJJ monthly membership?

  5. avatar FedUp says:

    Guilty or not is a question for the jury.

    My question is, if she was not guilty in a court of law, how does that merit a 3 year jail sentence? Pretrial punishment is getting out of hand in this country.

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      It’s not pretrial punishment though. She could have requested a speedier trial if she and her lawyer thought that was advantageous. Instead they decided to work through the slow way.

  6. avatar SurfGW says:

    Sounds like a reasonable jury. Unless you can show motive, she is innocent. She might not have any marks on her because this started like many other assaults against her but she cut it short. Women don’t kill their husbands for no reason. Good ruling.

    1. avatar possum says:

      That’s debatable.

    2. avatar Blurb says:

      Watch Diana Davison on YouTube

  7. avatar Buff cousin Elroy says:

    Absolutely no injuries on her? Hmm her story sounds fabricated.

  8. avatar JMR says:

    Every time one of these cases comes up, it reminds me how terrifying it would be to have most of TTAG readers as jurors.

    1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

      “…it reminds me how terrifying it would be to have most of TTAG readers as jurors.”

      Oh, *please*.

      Most TTAGers will be happy to give the guilty bastard the fair trial (followed by a summary hanging behind the courthouse) that they deserve.

      We are citizens, after all…

      *snicker* 😉

    2. avatar Gadsden says:

      One big problem I have with any kind of news system is right what we see here. No one here was in the jury and no one who’s reported the story was either. The jury was privy to all the evidence, unlike the reporters and commenters, and came to this conclusion. Luckily we (still) live in a system where juries and not Facebook decides guilt or innocence. In 20 years however that could change…

  9. avatar former water walker says:

    BEATS me(😄) if they got it right. The Me Too bunch tells us that gals never lie…and I have no idea why TTAG even reports on this except clickbait.

  10. avatar possum says:

    Evidently she preferred something other then a banana.

  11. avatar jwm says:

    She had her day in court. Now, about that 3 year wait in the lockup for a ‘fair and speedy’ trial.

    Can she file a claim against the state for that?

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Not if her defense team filed motions to delay for one reason or another

  12. avatar jon boat says:

    Once again, we have TTAG defending a woman murdering her husband.

    “four in the back.”
    “‘Ashley Hunter chose life,’ said defense lawyer (((Scott Rosenblum))).”
    “appeared to have no signs of injury – ‘not a single mark'”
    “Ashley admitted on the stand… that her husband had never laid a finger on her.”
    “investigators failed to seize the syringes which Nicholas had been using to inject the steroids.”

    Why TTAG? Sometimes I wonder if TTAG is really just controlled opposition for the anti-2A brady bunch.

  13. avatar AZgunner says:

    The whole thing sounds very suspect, for many of the reasons already mentioned. That being said, I’m not privy to all the facts of the case as presented by to the jury (nor is the article’s author) so I’ll refrain from judgement.

  14. avatar ollie says:

    Bi-polar persons can be like two completely different people. One can be kind and loving, the other mean and vicious. The temperament can change in a few seconds and the triggers are not always obvious. Many are not even fully aware of what their other side has done. If the husband was bi-polar, she may well have been in great danger.

    1. avatar jon boat says:

      Bipolar Disorder is when someone suffers from manic or hypomanic episodes. Manic episode are serious medical emergencies requiring hospitalization. Being mean at times and loving at other times is not bipolar disorder.

      Not really apropos, because the guy didn’t do anything wrong and was murdered by his wife. Murdering your husband is an action and a sin. Having a mental illness is not a choice and not a sin.

      Unrelated: we need to stop blaming peoples’ actions on mental illness. This logic is a slippery slope to giving physicians power to take away your guns and dehumanizes our power to make decisions- both right and wrong.

      1. avatar Kevin engels says:

        That’s a Fact ! & it don’t excuse 4 in the back ! “Murder”

    2. avatar KBonLI says:

      My Daughter was going out with a guy we as parents thought was a good guy.
      Only later did we find out what he really was. He took steroids, unbeknownst to us and when he did he became a different and violent person. He would beat her among other things and she never told us and we never saw any marks on her.
      We finally woke up when he destroyed her car with a baseball bat.
      After she was married (to someone else) her husband told us that she would wake up screaming, fearing that he was coming to harm her even though he had overdosed and died years earlier.
      So I can relate with victims of violence and I trust the jury did the right thing.

  15. avatar Hannibal says:

    Jodi Arias is wishing she had done a better job

  16. avatar Ark says:

    Sounds closer to failure to prove murder beyond a reasonable doubt than conclusive proof of self-defense. Circumstances can be suspicious but still not add up to proof of murder.

  17. avatar Kevin engels says:

    If you are attacked & shoot someone twice in the side & they turn & go away the attack & threat is over. you don’t shoot them 4 times in the back as they are fleeing ? That is Rage & Murder in my book!

    1. avatar KBonLI says:

      Who said he was fleeing? After being shot in the side he could have just twisted his body. No one said where in the back, was it just slightly or directly? I can see someone emptying the gun after a violent altercation especially if untrained.

  18. avatar Sora says:

    Sounds like Murder to me. Especially for lack of physical evidence supporting her claims of abuse.
    Another Pussy Pass wins the day.
    Put a guy in the same shoes, he’d get life.

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