Man charged with killing wife has prior arrests for violence, records show

Marco Stephens charged with killing Ashley Stephens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville man arrested and charged in the death of his estranged wife has a history of arrests related to violence, according to court documents.

Marco Stephens, 29, was arrested over the weekend near Tampa after police found him, covered in blood, behind the wheel of 34-year-old Ashley Stephens' car. She was found dead around 12:30 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the Cross Creek Apartments on Manotak Avenue, Jacksonville police said.

An injunction filed by Ashley Stephens in December 2017 states she was choked by her husband, Marco Stephens, on multiple occasions and in one case passed out due to a lack of oxygen. She told police she was also given a busted lip and black eyes.

In the injunction, Ashley Stephens claimed her husband would repeatedly call her workplace looking for her and would show up to places she frequents, threatening to kill her. She also claimed he had a drug and alcohol problem.

According to court documents, the couple attempted to end their marriage twice. Ashley Stephens filed for divorce in May 2016 after a year of marriage and Marco Stephens filed in November 2017. The divorce never took place.

Kara Gaffney, a survivor of domestic violence, said she was in an abusive relationship for nine months. She said sometimes it's hard for the victim to leave an abusive relationship.

"People stay for different reasons," Gaffney said. "If you're in that situation, just get out of it. It's not worth it. ... It's going to escalate. It's not going to get better."

According to a police report, Marco Stephens was arrested for violence before marrying Ashley Stephens. In 2014, he was arrested on a battery charge and accused of harming a woman he was dating at the time. The arrest occurred at the same apartment complex that Ashley Stephens was killed.

In 2011, a report shows an injunction was filed against Marco Stephens in the case of a woman who told police he came to her school, punched her in the face and threatened her life.

Marco Stephens has at least one child, a 5-year-old daughter, records show. Ashley Stephens was a mother of eight children. The injunction states the couple did not have children together.

Though unrelated, records show Ashley Stephens filed an injunction over a domestic violence situation against a man she had four boys with.

An account was setup by Ashley Stephens' family members to raise money. A balloon release will occur 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Southbank Riverwalk in her memory.

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