Ex-ballerina Ashley Benefield to argue self-defense in husband’s death

Posted at 6:00 AM, June 30, 2023 and last updated 9:49 AM, July 7, 2023

BRADENTON, Fla. (Court TV) – A former ballerina charged with second-degree murder for the death of her husband is arguing she acted in self-defense.

Ashley Benefield is accused of murdering Douglas Benefield in her Florida bedroom on September 27, 2020.

Booking photo of Ashley Benefield

Ashley Benefield is charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Douglas. (Manatee County Sheriff’s Office)

In a criminal complaint, detectives with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said they received a 911 call from one of Ashley’s neighbors reporting Ashley had come over saying she had been attacked by her husband and shot him.

Detectives said they determined four shots had been fired, two of which struck Douglas, and found four .45 casings at the scene.

“Based on the entry wounds on Douglas it does not appear that he was facing Ashley when she began shooting. It also does not appear that Douglas had taken any kind of defensive or combative stance. After being shot Douglas fell to the ground and it appears that he may have struck his head on the wall on the way down.”

Ashley and Douglas met in 2016, reported CBS News. The couple married just 13 days later. Douglas’ first wife had passed away months earlier from a heart condition, said his daughter Eva in a series of videos posted to social media.

Ashley reportedly became pregnant quickly after the wedding and moved to Florida to live with her mother while Douglas and Eva remained in Charleston. Douglas later joined Ashley and their baby in Bradenton once Eva began college.

Detectives said after learning she was pregnant, Ashley began making allegations against Douglas. She also filed complaints against him in the months leading up to his death. At one of their last injunction hearings, a judge advised she did not find Ashley’s story to have a “scintilla of truth” and ordered Douglas to have access to the child for visitation. “At this point, it appears that Ashley had exhausted all legal means of keeping the child away from Douglas before the shooting,” detectives wrote in the criminal complaint.

Ashley is scheduled to appear in court for a two-day stand-your-ground hearing beginning July 6, 2023.