By LAUREN SILVER Court TV
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Court TV) – Prosecutors said they intend to seek the death penalty in the case against Mario Enrique Fernandez Saldana, who is charged in the death of his ex-wife’s first husband, Jared Bridegan.
Fernandez Saldana was indicted in March 2023 on first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit a capital felony and child abuse for the shooting death that investigators described as a “targeted murder.”
In a May 3 pretrial hearing, prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty.
Jared Bridegan, an executive for Microsoft at the time of his death, was found shot to death on a quiet road in Jacksonville Beach just before 8 p.m. on February 16, 2022. In an affidavit accompanying Fernandez Saldana’s arrest warrant, Jacksonville Beach police said its investigation showed Bridegan was killed after dropping off his twins at the home of his ex-wife and Fernandez Saldana.
Bridegan was in his vehicle with his 2-year-old daughter from his current marriage and driving home when he came across a damaged tire in the middle of the road. Citing surveillance video, police said Bridegan stopped his car, turned on his hazard lights and opened his door to move the tire.
Kirsten Bridegan, the victim’s wife, told police she had spoken to her husband just moments before the murder and heard nothing unusual in the conversation. Bridegan was not armed and first responders reported seeing no sign of a struggle. Nothing was stolen from the scene: Bridgegan’s watch, wedding ring, phone, wallet and money were all intact and left at the scene, police said.
Police said bullets “struck the interior of the vehicle, in close proximity to where (the 2-year-old) was strapped into the car, an act that reasonably could have been expected to cause physical or mental injury to her. Witnesses advised that the child was crying when they arrived on the scene.”
Surveillance video showed the tire had not been in the roadway prior to the shooting, and investigators believed it was placed specifically in the road to force Bridegan out of his vehicle.
Investigators described Bridegan’s divorce from his ex-wife, Shanna Gardner, as “acrimonious.” Gardner and Bridegan shared equal custody of their 9-year-old twins after their 2015 divorce until the murder.
Gardner married Fernandez Saldana after the pair met in 2018 at a CrossFit gym, where Fernandez Saldana worked in maintenance. Detectives said the relationship between Gardner, Fernandez Saldana and Bridegan was contentious.
Police identified the gunman as Henry Tenon, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges and agreed to testify against Fernandez Saldana for the prosecution.
Detectives said the sole link between Jared Bridegan and Saldana is Tenon, who was a tenant in a Jacksonville home owned by Fernandez Saldana.
In August 2022, Tenon was arrested on an unrelated felony driving charge and questioned about his vehicle, which was believed to have been in the area of Bridegan’s murder.
Investigators said financial records indicated three handwritten checks to Tenon from Fernandez Saldana, as well as 35 phone contacts between the two men in February and 30 more in March.
At a news conference announcing the charges filed against Fernandez Saldana, Bridegan’s widow said, “We are here today feeling many emotions. We have great relief knowing that two of the people behind my husband’s murder are now behind bars and are no longer a threat to our family. … We have fought hard for the truth and the world now knows what we have known all along: that Jared truly was an innocent victim.”