WARREN COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) - A Warren County woman was found not guilty four years after she was charged with murdering her husband.
On January 15, 2015, Ashley Hunter called 911 from her home in Foristell to report she had been in a physical altercation with her husband, Nicholas Hunter. She told the dispatcher she shot him in the chest.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Department said her statements contradicted the evidence and she was charged with first-degree murder.
On Monday, a jury found Hunter not guilty on all charges and she was released from jail after almost four years behind bars.
“It felt like life had been given back to me,” Hunter said.
She said the thing she missed most was her little girls.
“These little girls need me and I haven’t seen them, and I need them,” she said.
For the first time since she shot her husband, she is talking about that night. She said throughout the day she texted her husband about little things like complaining about leaving the garage door open.
That night at their home, she said he was in a bad mood. He threatened her and his own life. Throughout the night, she said he became more aggressive. That’s when he got his gun.
“He had the gun in his hand and he wrapped his hand around my throat, and I kneed him hard in his balls and he dropped it and I picked it up, and right away, he came at me and put both hands around my neck,” she said.
That’s when she said she shot him seven times.
All along, she said it was self-defense. She said things were not perfect in their less than eight months of marriage despite the happy photos on Facebook.
“He had this huge beautiful heart on this side and on the other side was evil and abusive and aggressive,” she explained.
A week after the shooting, she was charged by Warren County prosecutors with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
On her way home on January 22 2015, she got the call about the charges. She said she took a bunch of Xanax and parked her car on Interstate 70 and walked in front of traffic.
“I had already fought for my life and I was done,” said Hunter.
She was hit by an ambulance.
Now, she hopes her story can help other women. She wants others to know why she never shared her marriage trouble.
“For four years, I did sit there and think ‘What is wrong with me? Why didn’t I say something? Why wouldn’t I reach out to somebody?’ and I always thought things would change. That was the worst, that I thought things would change if I was more loving, more forgiving, everything would be okay,” she said.
Nicholas Hunter’s father told News 4 they are not yet ready to comment on the verdict. A memorial Facebook page set up after his death is filled with people remembering him. After the verdict, the page administrator said, “We are in absolute shock right now.”
However, a statement was later posted on the page, saying:
"We now know why the jury chose the verdict they did and we know they NEVER FOR A SECOND believed a word that fell out of her mouth. We know that they legally felt compelled to choose that verdict. We know that no evidence supported anything she spewed. Unfortunately, technicalities are all too real and allowed a cold blooded murderer to roam free.
We know the truth and we know Nick was an incredible human being. He was an amazing daddy, person, and friend. There was no one like him and there never will be again.
As much as our hearts ache without him here, we know that any lies spewed about him are not believed by those who matter. His page has received over a hundred new "likes" since this trial started and there has been an outpouring of love and support from friends and strangers alike. We know that you all share our feelings.
You guys truly are the best."
With the trial behind her, Hunter said, “This is a victory for women.”
“Finally this is over. God got me through this,” she said.
News 4 reached out to the prosecuting attorney for Warren County and will update the story with a response.