A Florida woman has been arrested for allegedly using a $15,000 PPP loan to hire a hitman to murder the 24-year-old woman she claimed stole her boyfriend.
Le'Shonte Jones, a TSA agent at Miami International Airport, was fatally gunned down in front of her daughter, 3, outside their home at Coral Bay Cove Apartments in the Miami suburb of Homestead, on May 3, 2021. Her toddler was also injured.
Jasmine Martinez, 33, is charged with first degree murder for masterminding the plot.
Police say Martinez took out a $15,000 pandemic relief loan, which she claimed was for her one-woman beauty salon in operation, and then used it to hire Javon Carter, 29, to kill Jones. It is not clear if Martinez ever actually owned a salon.
Carter and Romiel Robinson, 35, who reportedly connected Martinez with the assassin, are also charged with murder. All three could face the death penalty if found guilty.
Jasmine Martinez, 33 (pictured) allegedly paid a hitman to kill TSA Officer La'Shonte Jones
TSA agent Jones, 24, was shot dead on May 3, 2021, in front of her daughter
Javon Carter, 29, was reportedly hired for $10,000 to kill Jones. He arrived at her Homestead, Florida, home on May 3 and opened fire (pictured)
Jones and Martinez has a long-standing since 2016, when Martinez attacked Jones because she was dating her ex-boyfriend. That case was dropped.
She was arrested again for attacking Jones in 2018 when officers investigating an unrelated matter saw her punching Jones in the face, according to the New York Times.
After a court hearing for that case in February 2020, Martinez's then-boyfriend Kelly Nelson was arrested for punching Jones and stealing her phone and wallet in the courthouse parking lot. He had a firearm on his person.
Martinez wasn't charged in that case. Nelson was jailed for armed robbery and is still awaiting trial, although Jones was the chief witness in that case.
In March of 2021, Jones told police that Martinez had offered her money not to testify against Nelson, and had sent her a message on social media asking her not to tell police that Nelson was armed at the time of the robbery, the Times reported.
Just a month before her murder, on April 9, Jones gave her deposition against Nelson.
Surveillance footage captured Jones and her toddler walking toward their apartment when a man, later identified as Carter, got out of a gray 2019 Nissan Sentra and began shooting at them with a semi-automatic pistol, police said.
The car had been rented by Carter's associate, who later told police that Carter 'explained to him that he was involved in a shooting to help a friend in jail.'
Ex-con Carter, wearing black hoodie-wearing, also injured Jones' three-year-old daughter, who was taken to the hospital in stable condition.
Prosecutors say that Javon Carter, 29 (right), shot Jones multiple times on May 3, 2021. Romiel Robinson, 35 (left), allegedly connected Martinez with Carter from prison
Martinez paid the hitmen using a $15,000 PPP loan, which she claimed was for her one-woman beauty salon in operation - whether she actually owned a salon is unclear.
In the days leading up to Jones' murder, she withdrew $10,000, according her arrest warrant.
A few hours after Jones was gunned down, he was paid and recorded a video of himself counting a 'large sum' of cash, according to Miami-Dade County detectives.
He can allegedly be heard saying 'Just another day at the office,' according to the Herald.
Martinez and Robinson, who were arrested on Tuesday, argue that they were not involved in the killing.
'Jasmin has always denied any involvement in this since the first time law enforcement approached her last summer,' said Martinez's defense attorney Fallon Zirpoli.
She also denied the killing in a Facebook post the day after the killing:
'Pray for The Family instead of Playing Detective & Assassinating People's Character!!' she wrote.
'No matter what differences you and another person may have been through in the past... that isn't worth Death!!'
'I'm a MOTHER before I'm anything and I'm also a mother who knows the feeling of losing a CHILD!! I serve 1 GOD & ONE GOD ONLY.'
'My children are hurting more than ever and instead of me reacting to the opinions of others won't help me be there for them as I should. My Condolences go out to Anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one and most definitely Shonte & I pray her babygirl gets well #beblessed #saveyourfriendrequest #PRAYPRAYPRAY.'
In 2016, Martinez (pictured) was arrested for battery after attacking Jones, who was dating Martinez's ex-boyfriend. The case was dropped. She was arrested again for attacking Jones in 2018
La'Shonte Jones, pictured, was allegedly beaten in a courthouse parking lot in February of 2020 after testifying against Martinez in a robbery trial
'Romiel is and has been in custody well before the incident unfolded,' said Jonathan Jordan, Robinson's attorney. 'This loss of life is tragic but Mr. Robinson had nothing to do with it. We look forward to reviewing all of the evidence and maintain he is innocent of these allegations.'
Prosecutors suspect that Robinson was the 'go-between' who set Martinez up with the gunman, but he was already in jail on unrelated charges.
It is unclear whether Carter has retained a defense attorney. He was arrested earlier this month, but his arrest warrant was sealed by a court order until Martinez was arrested, the Herald reported.
Prosecutors say that Nelson and Martinez hatched the plan to murder Jones over a series of months via jailhouse phone calls, which were recorded and used as key evidence. However, Nelson has not been accused in taking part in the TSA officer's murder.
In one call, Martinez allegedly said she was 'ready to go kill this ho' and that Jones had to 'die,' according to the alleged killer's arrest warrant.
Police were able to connect Carter to the shooting after tracing his phone to the area where the murder took place, and said that the same phone was traced to the same area for hours-long periods on the two days leading up to the murder, suggesting that he was scoping out Jones' apartment.
Carter communicated with Martinez 127 times in the months leading up to Jones' death, and spoke extensively with Robinson, with whom he served an earlier prison sentence, prosecutors said.
All three used sports terms to haggle over the price of the hit, with the term 'number 10 jersey' referring to the ultimate $10,000 payment.
Robinson and Carter have arraignments scheduled on February 24, while Martinez is to be extradited from Port St. Lucie.