Navy Seaman Elizabeth Shelton and Unborn Baby Survive Murder-For-Hire Plot, Husband and Two Acquaintances Guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Murder for the Life Insurance (2015)

US Navy

Navy seaman Elizabeth Shelton, 19, stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia survived a brutal assault in her home on August 22, 2015. Police got a call for a suspected home invasion and found Shelton unconscious, lying in a pool of blood. She suffered extensive facial injuries and was having difficulty breathing; she was rushed to the hospital. Shelton’s husband Anthony Johnson was also hurt during the home invasion. He reported that one of them tried to choke him to death while he lay in his bed. Johnson also reported that some of his friends stole his car. This led police to Tristan Reeder who told them that Johnson hired him and two others to kill his wife in exchange for the life insurance. Reeder said Johnson promised to give him $40,000 and Robert Burnette $70,000. Reeder also told police he pretended to choke Johnson unconscious while Burnette actually choked Shelton. Burnette then threw her off the bed and stomped on her head a half dozen times. They took off in Johnson’s car after they saw blood.

Three men were indicted on charges for trying to kill Anthony Johnson’s pregnant wife in a murder-for-hire plot: Robert Burnette, 19; Tristan Reeder, 21; and Joseph Apodaca, 21. They were charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and conspiracy to maliciously wound Elizabeth Shelton. Anthony Johnson, 21, was charged with three felonies connected with hiring the men to kill his wife. Court documents revealed that Johnson promised Burnette and Reeder more than $100,000 after he cashed in Shelton’s $400,000 life insurance pay-out. Reed, Burnette, and Johnson were held in Norfolk City Jail while they awaited trial. Johnson claimed he was framed and Elizabeth initially believed that he was innocent. She thought the men broke into the apartment because they were mad after they kicked them out the day before.

“He [Anthony Johnson] called my mother from jail and told her it wasn’t true,” Elizabeth Johnson said. “She told me he’s innocent. I didn’t have to ask him, I believed him.” -WAVY

In May 2o16, Anthony Johnson was found guilty of plotting to kill his pregnant wife in exchange for money from her life insurance policy. Joseph Apodaca testified in court that Johnson had been pressuring all three of them to kill his wife and make it look like a break-in. Initially Apodaca agreed but then when it came time to execute the plan, he backed out. A civilian jury sentenced Johnson to 35 years: 25 years for attempted capital murder, 5 years for conspiracy to commit capital murder, and 5 years for malicious wounding. Robert Burnette was found guilty of attempted capital murder and sentenced to 27 years in prison with 15 years suspended. Tristan Reeder pleaded guilty to attempted capital murder for hire and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Apodaca was charged with failure to report a felony and sentenced to 12 months in jail. Elizabeth Shelton recovered and gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

Related Links:
3 men charged in plot to kill acquaintance’s wife
Police: Man hired trio to kill pregnant wife
Man accused of hiring hit men: I didn’t try to kill my wife
Husband charged with murder-for-hire claims he was framed
Man accused of plotting pregnant wife’s murder says he’s innocent
Judge certifies murder-for-hire charge against Anthony Johnson
Charge against husband in Norfolk murder-for-hire plot certified to grand jury
Court documents map out timeline of Norfolk murder-for-hire case
Suspect in murder-for-hire plot testifies against victim’s husband
Man found guilty in Norfolk murder-for-hire plot of pregnant wife
Jury finds Norfolk man guilty in murder-for-hire case
Virginia man convicted of hiring hit men to kill wife for life insurance
Man sentenced to 35 years in prison for murder-for-hire plot
One of three men in Norfolk murder-for-hire sentenced to 12 years in prison
Man sentenced in husband’s murder-for-hire plot against pregnant wife
Hearing continued for suspect in Norfolk murder-for-hire
Guilty plea in murder-for-hire plot
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