Wrongful death suit filed against Riviera man in wife’s 2017 shooting

Updated Sept 05, 2018
Dwight Luton appears in court Wednesday, March 8, 2017, charged with first degree murder with a firearm and evidence tampering in the death of his wife, Ashley Balius. Luton told police his wife accidentally shot herself while pulling a gun from her purse. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

A year after a Riviera Beach firearms dealer was accused of shooting his wife dead, her grieving parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him while he sits in the Palm Beach County jail awaiting trial on a murder charge.

Dwight Luton, 33, acted with “gross negligence” when he shot his 31-year-old wife, Ashley Balius, in March 2017 outside their house on Canterbury Drive North, attorney Scott Smith wrote in the lawsuit he filed last week on behalf of Gordon and Donna Balius. Smith is also suing Strictly Tactical Firearms, a business Luton ran from the couple’s home.

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Smith acknowledged he doesn’t know if Luton has any money but suspects that he does. “It is my understanding that Mr. Luton and his family are a family of substantial means and Mr. Luton has access to financial resources,” Smith said.

He declined to say how much money he will be seeking. Court records show a Luton trust and other family members were co-owners of the home Luton and Balius shared during their brief marriage.

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Scott Skier, one of several attorneys representing Luton on the criminal charge, declined comment on the civil lawsuit.

Luton initially told police his wife accidentally shot herself in the head when she pulled a gun out of her purse. Video taken from home security cameras show Luton jumping out of a blue 2004 Chevy SUV and grabbing a backpack shortly before his wife slumps over in the driver’s seat, police said. Before attending to Balius, Luton wipes down the SUV’s dashboard and himself, police said, describing the video.

While Luton was initially also charged with evidence tampering, that charge was dropped. Luton also faces an unrelated charge of driving under the influence stemming from a crash before Balius’ death.