The woman accused of killing her boyfriend in November may soon be out of jail after a Charlotte County judge set her bond at $20,000 Thursday.
Ashley Britto, 33, has been in jail since Nov. 5 after fatally stabbing her boyfriend Justin Burton, 35. Burton had been drinking and arguing with her throughout the day. When he came into the kitchen while she was cooking dinner and threw a bag of McDonald’s at her, she turned around and stabbed him, according to the arrest affidavit.
Originally charged with murder, the state filed a new information in late November amending the charge to manslaughter with a weapon. The first degree felony entitles her to pre-trial release with conditions set by the court.
Britto has no prior criminal history, and according to Public Defender Toby Oonk, there is a basis for battered spouse syndrome as a defense in her case. He said she’s been choked to the point of passing out in prior domestic violence incidents and documented her injuries in photos on her phone.
Assistant State Attorney Sara Miller asked for a $100,000 bond, stating while there had been several domestic violence calls in which she was the victim, Britto did still kill someone.
Judge Donald Mason said her lack of criminal history weighed heavily in her favor, but he was concerned with her lack of ties to the area. With no job or property, she has only a brother in St. Petersburg and parents in South Carolina.
Oonk argued Britto is not a flight risk, as she has a dependency case being adjudicated in Charlotte County which would motivate her to stay in the area. Her children with Burton are currently in Massachusetts in the custody of Burton’s mother.
Mason settled on the $20,000 bond, stating, “As a mother of children, I assume your interest in the well-being of those children is paramount. But you could be the mother of the year and I don’t know that... It would be in the best interest of your bondsman to hunt you down to the ends of the earth for $20,000.”
Britto’s next court date is scheduled for March 21. Oonk said he has contacted one doctor so far about evaluating for battered spouse syndrome and is researching the possibility of a stand your ground motion.