(JACKSONVILLE) — The woman accused of plotting the killing of her ex-husband, Microsoft executive Jared Bridegan, pleaded not guilty on Friday to capital murder.
Shanna Gardner, 36, was indicted by a grand jury on first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit a capital felony and child abuse in connection with the fatal shooting of Bridegan in Florida in 2022.
Bridegan, 33, was shot and killed in the middle of a Jacksonville Beach street in what authorities described as a targeted ambush. Gardner, along with her current partner, Mario Fernandez Saldana, and his former tenant, have all been charged in connection with the deadly shooting.
Gardner was arrested in August in Washington state and extradited to Duval County last month after she lost a legal battle to remain in Washington.
During her first court appearance on Friday, Gardner smiled as she entered the Jacksonville courtroom, wearing an orange jumpsuit. She did not speak during the brief hearing.
Her new attorney, Jose Baez — who has represented high-profile clients such as Casey Anthony and former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez — entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.
A judge said that Gardner’s future hearings will be held with Fernandez Saldana, 35, who was indicted by a grand jury on the same charges as Gardner. He has pleaded not guilty.
A pretrial hearing for Gardner and Fernandez Saldana has been set for Dec. 1. The trial is expected to begin on April 13, 2024.
Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty against both defendants.
Fernandez Saldana’s former tenant, Henry Tenon, was arrested in January and is accused of fatally shooting Bridegan. He has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is now cooperating with authorities.
Prosecutors have said the tenant-landlord relationship was the “single link” tying Tenon to Bridegan.
Bridegan was driving his then-2-year-old daughter in Jacksonville Beach in February 2022 when he came upon a tire blocking his path, police said. When he stepped out of the car, authorities said, he was ambushed and murdered.
The night he was killed, Bridegan was driving home after dropping off the twins he shared with Gardner, police said.
Bridegan also had two children with his wife, Kirsten Bridegan — the then-2-year-old and a younger daughter who was home with his wife at the time of the shooting.
Gardner denied any involvement in her ex-husband’s murder last year during her only television interview.
“Any time divorce comes into any situation it’s messy,” she told Jacksonville station WJAX in July 2022.
“Even though we didn’t always get along, he was still the father of my kids,” she said.
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