Just a few weeks after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a warrant for Shanna Gardner to be extradited to Duval County, Florida — Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, signed the document, clearing the way for Gardner to come back to Florida and face murder charges.
Gardner, 36, moved to Washington state with the two children she shared with ex-husband Jared Bridegan after his murder. The Jacksonville Beach woman is accused of orchestrating the death of her ex-husband in a murder-for-hire plot.
It is still unclear when Gardner will be back in Duval County.
Prosecutors say Gardner played a “key and central role” in the conspiracy to kill 33-year-old Bridegan, who was shot several times at close range around 8 p.m. Feb. 16, 2022. His then-2-year-old-year-old daughter was in the backseat of his SUV near the Sanctuary neighborhood in south Jacksonville Beach. The toddler was not injured, but her presence prompted felony child abuse charges against the suspects.
Gardner is charged with first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and child abuse.
Her husband, 34-year-old Mario Fernandez, who was arrested in March, is facing the same charges. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for both if they are convicted.
Fernandez’s indictment said he plotted the murder within the four months leading to Bridegan’s death, but Gardner’s indictment said she may have been scheming to kill Bridegan as early as May 2015 a few months before their divorce was finalized.
According to his indictment, Fernandez wrote three checks to the confessed gunman, Henry Tenon. Fernandez had been Tenon’s landlord, and investigators say phone records revealed more than 70 calls between the men before and after Bridegan’s murder.
Tenon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for fatally shooting Bridegan and has agreed to testify against the couple.
“Henry Tenon did not act alone. Mario Fernandez did not plan alone. And Shanna Gardner’s indictment acknowledges her central and key role in the cold, calculated and premeditated murder of Jared Bridegan,” State Attorney Melissa Nelson said when she announced Gardner’s arrest.
Body-worn camera footage shows the moment federal agents took Gardner into custody in West Richland, Washington, on Aug. 17. Investigators brought her out of her home in handcuffs. Inside, officers can hear the 11-year-old twins she shared with Bridegan helping her to find clothes before the police take her away.
Body camera footage from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office also shows the March 16 arrest of Fernandez, who was calm and conversational with deputies as they took him to jail. Judge London Kite said Fernandez’s case is in limbo until the co-defendant, Gardner, is back in Duval County.
The first arrest in the case came in February when police charged Tenon in Bridegan’s shooting death.
The murder received national attention in 2022 when Bridegan was gunned down while trying to move a tire blocking the road on his way home from his ex-wife’s house after dropping off their twins. The shooting took place two miles from Gardner’s home. Police said it was a targeted, cold-blooded attack.
A list of discovery in the case shows search warrants were served for multiple phones, bank accounts and Google accounts, along with DNA swabs from multiple people. Investigators also subpoenaed “Ring” camera data and information from multiple computers. Toll records were even pulled for Fernandez, Gardner, Bridegan and five others. Other documents listed were a Bearded Pig receipt, a Wendy’s receipt and work orders and receipts from Discount Tires.
Discovery also shows Fernandez and Gardner were interviewed on March 1, 2022, and April 15, 2022, a year before their eventual arrests.