Florida prosecutors announced Wednesday that they are seeking the death penalty against Mario Fernandez for the murder of Microsoft executive Jared Bridegan in front of his toddler more than a year ago.
During Fernandez’s appearance before Judge London Kite, a prosecutor from the office of Melissa Nelson, the state attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial District, listed the aggravating circumstances justifying the decision.
Fernandez, 35, was indicted on first-degree murder and other charges for the fatal shooting of 33-year-old Bridegan in front of his daughter, Bexley, in north Florida on Feb. 16, 2022.
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“The capital felony was committed for pecuniary gain,” said prosecutor Christina Stifler. “The capital felony was a homicide and was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.”
During the brief hearing at the Duval County Courthouse, Fernandez, the second husband of Bridegan’s ex-wife Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, remained silent.
He was arrested in March for the fatal shooting on the same day his former tenant, Henry Tenon, pleaded guilty to the killing as part of a cooperation agreement that will send him to jail for 15 years to life.
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Law enforcement sources said that Gardner-Fernandez, who is estranged from her husband, remains a suspect in the killing.
Fernandez’s lawyer, Jesse Dreicer, said that the defense team reserves the right to challenge the decision to seek the death penalty.
The decision to seek the death penalty against Fernandez comes just days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law requiring only eight out of 12 jurors to agree on a death sentence. Previously, a unanimous vote was required for a death penalty sentence to be imposed.
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Bridegan’s murder occurred amid acrimonious litigation with Gardner-Fernandez over custody and finances related to their 10-year-old twins. The family court battle only came to an end with his death.
Kirsten Bridegan, Jared’s second wife and the mother of their two children, Bexley, 3, and London, 1, has been tirelessly seeking justice.
Bridegan was ambushed after dropping off his twins at his ex-wife’s home in Jacksonville Beach.
While driving home with Bexley, he encountered a tire in the road and got out to move it.
It was then that Tenon opened fire, killing Bridegan and narrowly missing Bexley, who was strapped in her car seat. Several bullets were found lodged inside the vehicle.
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