Judge denies Ashley Benefield’s self-defense claim in husband’s death

Posted at 10:31 AM, September 19, 2023


BRADENTON, Fla. (Court TV) – A Florida judge has denied an ex-ballerina’s claim that she killed her husband in self-defense, according to court documents obtained by Court TV.

Ashley Benefield appears in court

Ashley Benefield appears in court Thursday, July 6, 2023, for an immunity hearing. (Court TV)

Ashley Benefield is facing a second-degree murder charge for the September 2020 death of Douglas Benefield. At a “Stand Your Ground” hearing in July, her attorneys argued she shot Douglas in self-defense. Prosecutors contended Ashley killed Douglas to avoid sharing custody of their daughter.

RELATED: Ex-ballerina Ashley Benefield argues self-defense in husband’s death at hearing

Douglas was killed while helping Ashley move her belongings to Maryland, where they were going to take up residence. During the move, Ashley, through her lawyer, said she shot her husband while fearing for her life after he allegedly assaulted her. Prosecutors claim Ashley had no intention of reconciling with Douglas and was moving to Maryland after she had exhausted her legal avenues in Florida to keep Douglas from seeing their daughter.

On Monday, Circuit Court Judge Stephen M. Whyte issued his ruling denying Ashley’s Motion to Dismiss. Judge Whyte wrote, “The competent and substantial evidence presented by the State proves clearly and convincingly that the defendant is not entitled to court-ordered immunity from criminal prosecution, as she was not justified in using deadly force against the victim on September 27, 2020.”

At a docket sounding Tuesday, Ashley’s trial was stayed until Nov. 29.