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Florida woman used PPP loan to hire hit man to kill young mother in front of her daughter, police say

Le’Shonte Jones was killed in May. Three people have been charged with her death.

A Florida woman is accused of using some of her Covid-19 relief loan to hire a hit man to kill another woman, police said.

The suspect, Jasmine Martinez, is in jail along 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 alleged to have concocted a plot to kill Jones, and Robinson is accused of enlisting Carter to carry out the slaying, NBC Miami reported, citing an arrest warrant. In the days before the shooting, Martinez is alleged to have withdrawn about $10,000 from a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan she received.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 business owners struggling during the pandemic — for a single-employment beauty salon. It's not clear whether she actually owned the salon.

Investigators said Martinez knew the victim and had been arrested and charged in 2018 with getting into a physical altercation with Jones. Jones testified against Martinez in 2020, according to the warrant.

After that court hearing, Jones reported that she was harassed, held at gunpoint and robbed by two men, the warrant alleges. 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 robbery.

The warrant alleges that police investigating Jones' murder uncovered jail records of phone calls between Nelson and Martinez. Martinez is alleged to have told Nelson in a call on Feb. 11, 2021, that she was “ready to go kill” Jones and that Jones has to “die,” according to the warrant.

The next day, Robinson, who was Martinez's new boyfriend, contacted Carter, authorities say.

Jones reported in March that she was being harassed, was offered money not to testify against Nelson and was told that Martinez wanted Nelson home to help take care of their children, according to the warrant. Jones testified against Nelson in April and also against Martinez for witness tampering, the warrant says.

Investigators alleged that shortly after her testimony, Robinson contacted Carter to get a price on the killing.

The investigation alleged that Carter went to Jones' apartment complex on April 30 and May 1 to conduct surveillance. He is accused of shooting her multiple times on May 3 as she walked home with her daughter.

Miami-Dade police said in a Facebook post that security video showed Jones, 24, and her daughter walking toward her apartment when she was gunned down. Jones, a Transportation Security Administration officer at Miami International Airport, was pronounced dead at the scene, and her daughter was airlifted to a hospital, police said.

The video also showed Carter getting out of a gray Nissan and firing at Jones and her daughter with a handgun, according to the police post.

All three suspects were charged with first-degree murder of Jones and attempted murder of her child, online records show. 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, a lawyer for Robinson, said they entered a plea of not guilty.

“Mr. Robinson, who has his own legal problems and who’s been in custody for quite some time on an unrelated matter, has no reason whatsoever to benefit from being involved in these allegations. Sometimes things are not quite as they appear. I believe that to be the case here and I look forward to reviewing the evidence in this case where he remains presumed innocent," Jordan said.

Nelson awaits trial on the armed robbery charge, according to The Herald.

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement that Jones' killing was "senseless."

Dan Ronan, the TSA security director at Miami International Airport, said: "Last May, the TSA workforce here in Miami tragically lost one of our own Officers who was killed in a cruel act of violence as she returned home from the airport. We still feel the immense loss of our young, vibrant officer, who was taken away from her family and away from us way too soon. We are grateful to the Miami-Dade Police Department for their tireless efforts to bring Le’Shonte’s killers to justice."