A Florida judge ruled Monday that retired ballerina Ashley Benefield will stand trial for the 2020 death of her husband.
According to Court TV, Judge Stephen M. Whyte of the 12th Judicial District Circuit Court issued a ruling that aligned with the prosecution’s account of events leading to Doug Benefield’s death. The order rejected the defense’s version of what transpired and agreed with the state that probable cause exists to proceed with the case.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Benefield, 28, was charged with second-degree murder in November 2020, in connection with Doug’s death. She claimed she shot him twice in self-defense, following a heated custody battle on September 17, 2020.
Benefield said her husband attacked her, but investigators said they found no evidence that she was acting in self-defense and no evidence of physical abuse.
“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,” Whyte wrote in the order.
Court documents indicate that on the day in question, Doug Benefield went to visit his child at a home in Lakewood Ranch, where the suspect was staying with her mother. An argument ensued and he ended up wounded. He later passed away from his injuries at a local hospital.
Ashley Benefield claimed that Doug grabbed her and began punching her when she tried to leave.
“Raising his right hand, with a closed fist, the decedent drove his knuckles, at the second joint, into the left side of Ms. Benefield’s head,” the motion read. “Her worst fears realized, Ms. Benefield now believed her life was in danger.”
Prosecutors argued that the victim was not facing Benefield when she shot him and didn’t appear to be in a “combative stance,” which would make Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law inadmissible.
“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,” the affidavit read.
Bradenton Herald previously reported that shortly after she became pregnant, Benefield started filing domestic violence reports and an injunction against her husband, but an arrest affidavit indicated no proof of her claims.
“It appears that the main focus of these complaints was to keep the child away from Douglas,” the affidavit read.
A judge later ordered that Doug Benefield would be allowed to have visitation with his child.
“At this point, it appeared Ashley had exhausted all legal means to keep the child away from Douglas before the shooting,” the affidavit continued.
Benefield is filing an appeal on the judge’s decision with the State’s Second District Court of Appeal, Law & Crime reports. She can still claim self-defense at trial even if her immunity appeal fails.
The trial is scheduled for November 29. Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Doug and Ashley Benefield/Facebook]
Post source: Crime Online