A Florida woman is accused of using part of her Covid-19 relief loan to hire a hitman to kill another woman, police have said.
The suspect, Jasmine Martinez, is in jail with two other people, identified by police as Javon Carter and Romiel Robinson. They are all being held on charges related to the May 3 murder of Le’Shonte Jones and the attempted murder of Jones’ 3-year-old daughter, who was injured.
Martinez is accused of concocting a plot to kill Jones, and Robinson is accused of enlisting Carter to carry out the murder, NBCMiami reported, citing an arrest warrant. In the days leading up to the shooting, Martinez reportedly withdrew about $10,000 from a Federal Paycheck Protection Program loan she received. The warrant alleges that she used the money to pay Carter for the crime.
According to The Miami Herald, Martinez received the $15,000 loan — given to struggling business owners during the pandemic — for a one-job beauty salon. It is unclear if she actually owned the salon.
Investigators say Martinez knew the victim and was arrested and charged in 2018 with having a physical altercation with Jones. Jones testified against Martinez in 2020, according to the warrant.
After that hearing, Jones reported that she was harassed, held at gunpoint and robbed by two men, according to the warrant. One of the men was later identified as Martinez’s ex-boyfriend Kelly Nelson, the warrant says.
Nelson is in jail on charges related to the alleged theft.
The warrant alleges that police investigating Jones’ murder discovered prison recordings of phone calls between Nelson and Martinez. Martinez allegedly told Nelson during a Feb. 11, 2021, call that she was “ready to go kill” Jones and that Jones must “die,” according to the warrant.
The next day, Robinson, who was Martinez’s new boyfriend, contacted Carter, authorities said.
Jones reported in March that she was harassed, offered money not to testify against Nelson and was told that Martinez wanted Nelson to come home to help take care of their children, according to the mandate. Jones testified against Nelson in April and also against Martinez for witness tampering, the warrant says.
Investigators alleged that shortly after his testimony, Robinson contacted Carter for a price on the murder.
The inquest alleged that Carter visited the Jones apartment complex on April 30 and May 1 to conduct surveillance. He is accused of repeatedly shooting her on May 3 as she was returning home with her daughter.
Miami-Dade police said in a Facebook post This security video showed Jones, 24, and her daughter walking towards her apartment when she was shot. Jones, a Transportation Security Administration officer at Miami International Airport, was pronounced dead at the scene and his daughter was airlifted to hospital, police said.
The video also showed Carter getting out of a gray Nissan and shooting Jones and her daughter with a handgun, according to the police station.
The three suspects have been charged with the first degree murder of Jones and the attempted murder of her child, according to online records. Robinson and Martinez were also charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Attorneys for Martinez and Carter did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
Jonathan Jordan, an attorney for Robinson, said they pleaded not guilty.
“Mr. Robinson, who has his own legal troubles and who has been detained for some time on an unrelated matter, has no reason to benefit from being embroiled in these allegations. Sometimes things aren’t all right. exactly as they appear. I believe that is the case here and I look forward to reviewing the evidence in this case where he remains presumed innocent,” Jordan said.
Nelson is awaiting trial for armed robbery, according to The Herald.
State’s Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement that Jones’ murder was “senseless”.
Dan Ronan, Director of Security for the TSA at Miami International Airport, said, “Last May, TSA personnel here in Miami tragically lost one of our own agents who was killed in a cruel act of violence as she was returning home from the airport. We still feel the immense loss of our young and dynamic officer, who was separated from his family and from us far too soon. We are grateful to the department Miami-Dade Police Department for his tireless efforts to bring Le’Shonte’s killers to justice.