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Guardianship dispute emerges over baby of couple killed in Summerlin law office shooting

Updated June 13, 2024 - 9:17 am

In the aftermath of the shooting that killed attorney Dennis Prince and his new wife, Ashley Prince, their families have become entangled in a new guardianship case over the couple’s baby.

Dennis Prince, 57, and Ashley Prince, 30, were killed in early April, when Ashley Prince’s former father-in-law, Joe Houston, fatally shot them and himself during a deposition at Dennis Prince’s Summerlin law office. Dennis Prince was acting as co-counsel in his wife’s contentious custody case against her ex-husband, Dylan Houston, who is also an attorney.

Since the shooting, Ashley Prince’s parents have been fighting Dylan Houston for custody and guardianship of Ashley Prince’s two young children she had with her ex-husband.

Now, a guardianship dispute has emerged regarding Dennis and Ashley Prince’s child, as attorneys begin to discuss the possibility of a wrongful death suit against Joseph Houston’s estate.

Court records show that Dennis Prince’s close friends, Mitchell and Danielle Britten, were given temporary custody of the baby following the shooting.

“The child’s father had previously asked Petitioners to care for the child if anything happened to him, but to Petitioners’ knowledge, neither parent prepared an estate plan addressing guardianship of the child,” according to court documents filed by the Brittens.

Ashley Prince’s parents, Julie and Paul Page, filed court documents in late May asking a judge to appoint Paul Page as guardian over the baby and the baby’s estate.

“The petition is not filed in order to initiate litigation,” attorneys wrote in the court filing. “However, it is reasonably likely that the child will need a guardian to initiate litigation against the estate of Joseph Houston II to seek and collect damages for wrongful death and to potentially make other claims against other third-parties to protect their interests and receive damages.”

On Friday, one of Dennis Prince’s sons, Scot Prince, filed a counter-petition arguing against appointing Ashley Prince’s parents as his baby sibling’s guardian.

Scot Prince argued that the Brittens are “the most qualified, fit, and suitable persons” to serve as the baby’s guardian, but requested that if the judge does not want them to be guardians, then he should be appointed instead.

His counter-petition argued that Ashley Prince’s parents should not be appointed because of the ongoing legal issues surrounding them and Dylan Houston.

Scot Prince’s attorney, Laura Deeter, cited Julie and Paul Page’s public comments that they are in fear for their lives after the shooting. They have pointed to inflammatory text messages that Dylan Houston wrote to his wife throughout their custody dispute, and allegations of substance abuse levied at Dylan Houston.

“It is reasonable to assume that the protected minor, who is not a biological child of the feared ex-husband Dylan Houston, may also be in danger of the fears expressed by counter-petitioners Paul and Julie Page,” Deeter wrote in court documents, adding that the baby should be kept from interacting with Dylan Houston.

Deeter also argued that because the Pages indicated they might bring about a wrongful death suit against Joseph Houston’s estate, they have created a conflict of interest if Paul Page were to serve as guardians for all three of Ashley Prince’s children.

Scot Prince and his attorney declined to comment following a court hearing on Tuesday.

During the hearing, the Pages’ attorney, Dana Dwiggins, argued that there is not a conflict of interest, and that the baby’s maternal grandparents want to continue establishing a relationship with the young child.

District Judge Dawn Throne did not make any rulings on the guardianship matter on Tuesday, instead setting a trial date for October and extending the current temporary guardianship order.

“I’ll be honest with all of you, my initial instinct in this case is that the adult relationships are not what matters,” Throne said, adding that the young children’s relationships with each other should be considered.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240.

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