A 36-year-old woman was booked into the Benton County jail this week in connection with a murder plot that spans from Florida all the way to West Richland.
Shanna Lee Gardner was arrested at her West Richland home Thursday morning, according to public records and State Attorney Melissa Nelson from the Fourth Circuit of Florida.
She was expected to appear in Benton County Superior Court on Friday afternoon. It wasn’t immediately clear if she would fight her return to Florida to face the charges.
Florida investigators say Gardner was part of an elaborate plot to kill her 33-year-old ex-husband, Jared Bridegan, a Microsoft executive in February 2022, according to a Thursday news conference in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
A grand jury indicted her on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder and child abuse.
Nelson announced plans to seek the death penalty if Gardner is convicted of playing a “central and key role in the cold and calculated premeditate murder.”
Gardner was the third person to be arrested in connection with Bridegan’s death.
Gunman Henry Tennon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in March. As part of his agreement with prosecutors, he said he would testify against any accomplice in the case, according to the state attorney release.
Gardner’s husband, Mario Fernandez-Saldana, has since been indicted for first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder and child abuse.
According to Florida media reports, Gardner and Bridegan had a troubled relationship that started in 2010 and ended in their divorce in 2016. But a bitter custody battle continued even after their divorce.
Then on Feb. 16, 2022, the father of four had just dropped off his 9-year-old twins back at Gardner’s home and was driving home with a 2-year-old daughter still in the car.
Police said he was turning out of the Jacksonville Beach neighborhood, when he came across a tire in the middle of a dark section of the road, according a state’s attorney release.
Bridegan opened the door to move the tire when Tennon, who rented property from Fernandez-Saldana, ambushed and shot him.
Investigators believe Fernandez-Saldana was integral in recruiting Tennon for the plot.