Ashley Benefield Lakewood Ranch Florida former ballet dancer charged w/ murdering husband, Douglas Benefield amid custody battle.
Ashley Christina Benefield, 28, turned herself in to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office according to a police press release last week.
After a five-week investigation, detectives in the sheriff’s office informed Benefield’s attorneys that they planned to charge her with second-degree murder for the September 28 shooting of Douglas Benefield, 59.
The couple had been living separately and embroiled in a custody battle over their two year old daughter at the time, police said. Doug Benefield had gone to Ashley Benefield‘s mother’s home, where she was staying at the time and they were the only people inside the residence when the shots were fired, the Bradenton Herald reports.
The woman’s arrest follows authorities previously receiving a report of a shooting at a home in the Central Park section of Lakewood Ranch, about 50 miles south of Tampa.
Ashley told investigators that she shot Doug in self-defense during a ‘domestic argument.’
But detectives were unable to find evidence to support her claims.
‘These things take a little bit of time,’ Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Randy Warren told WFLA-TV.
‘We really have to look to make sure there is no evidence she had been abused and that just did not exist in this case.’
‘We are looking for injuries, we are looking for torn clothing, we are looking for a sign of struggle, things that were inside that residence.
‘We got a warrant, we were able to go in, we were able to examine that closely.
‘There was no evidence there that this was an act of self-defense.’
Accusations of domestic violence that could not be proven
County court records indicate that Ashley Benefield had on several occasions filed petitions accusing her husband of domestic violence.
‘In each of these cases, it did not appear that she was being abused,’ Warren said.
‘We could not find anything there that would have led us to arrest her husband for whatever these claims were even some involving their child.’
Doug was a Navy veteran who founded a ballet startup along with his wife in Charleston, South Carolina, three years ago.
Doug was CEO while Ashley took on the role of executive director.
But shortly after the company’s founding, it was sued by dancers and choreographers who alleged their contracts were breached when they were fired just weeks after their hiring.