Ashley Benefield — the founder of the short-lived company American National Ballet, which is based in Charleston, S.C., has been arrested and charged with killing her estranged husband.
According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the dancer, 28, was charged with second-degree murder on November 4 for fatally shooting Doug C. Benefield “at a Central Park home on September 27” in Florida.
“In the course of the investigation detectives determined Ashley shot Doug, during what she had described was a domestic argument,” the website reads.
“The couple had been separated and were in the midst of a custody battle involving their daughter,” the statement continues. “Ashley was staying at her mother’s home in the Central Park neighborhood, while Doug resided at another address. Doug came over to see Ashley that day and were the only ones at the Central Park home when the shooting occurred.”
Ashley ran to a neighbor’s house after the incident, according to a police affidavit filed in court. Authorities found Doug in his bedroom with two gunshot wounds — one in his leg and another in his chest. The bullet grazed his right arms, and two more bullets were found in the wall. Doug was brought to a local hospital, where he later died from his injuries.
The Manatee Sheriff’s Office said Ashley claimed Doug “was attacking her, but detectives found no signs that she had been physically abused.”
“Detectives found no evidence that she was acting in self-defense when she fired multiple shots at her husband,” the website reads.
According to the affidavit, which was obtained by PEOPLE, Doug did “not appear that he was facing Ashley when she began shooting. It also does not appear that Douglas had taken any kind of defensive of combative stance.”
“Douglas was not found to have any weapons on his person or near him.”
In the police affidavit, investigators only found an “old and very minor” scratch on Ashley.
“During this investigation, it was found that since the time Ashley found out she was pregnant with the child that she and Douglas share she has made several allegations against Douglas,” the affidavit reads. “While looking into the outcomes of the numerous cases it was found that they had never resulted in criminal charges and furthermore closed as unfounded.
“It appears that the main focus of these complaints was to keep the child away from Douglas,” the affidavit continues.
Ashley wanted to keep her child away from Doug, so she filed an injunction against him, the police affidavit alleges. However, a judge “openly advised that she did not find Ashley’s story to possess a ‘scintilla of truth'” and as a result, let Doug have visitation rights.
“At this point, it appeared Ashley had exhausted all legal means to keep the child away from Douglas before the shooting,” the affidavit reads.
Ashley is currently being held in police custody without bail, and the case is still being investigated.
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