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Virginia man convicted of hiring hit men to kill wife for life insurance

May 24, 2016, Norfolk, VA — A jury found a Norfolk man guilty Monday night of hiring three men to murder his wife.

The jury convicted Anthony Johnson on all charges against him, including one count of attempted capital murder for hire, one count of conspiracy to commit capital murder for hire and one count of malicious wounding. Johnson’s trial began on May 18.

Prosecutors say Johnson hired three men to kill his wife, Elizabeth Shelton, for insurance money. Shelton was about eight months pregnant at the time.

According to court documents, Robert Burnette, Tristan Reeder and Joseph Apodaca met Johnson and his wife in 2014. Burnette, Reeder and Apodaca became friendly with the Johnsons and stayed at their apartment on Armfield Circle in Norfolk for periods of time throughout 2014 and 2015.

During the course of 2015, Johnson began to talk about killing his wife in order to collect money from her life insurance policy, court documents say. In August 2015, Johnson repeatedly discussed the murder with Burnette, Reeder and Apodaca. The court documents say Johnson suggested to make the murder look like a burglary of he and his wife’s apartment.

Sometime before the evening of August 21, 2015, court documents say Johnson, Burnette and Reeder agreed to carry out the plan to kill Shelton for a share the life insurance money. Apodaca refused to be a part of the plan and left the apartment.

Court documents say that later that evening and early into the morning of August 22, 2015, Johnson and his two accomplices, Burnette and Reeder, staged the burglary and attempted to kill Shelton.

A few hours after the attempted murder, Burnette and Reeder met Apodaca at a shopping center off of Little Creek Road in Norfolk, where they told Apodaca that they had successfully carried out the murder, according to court documents.

The jury recommended Johnson be sentenced to 35 years in prison. His formal sentencing hearing is set for July 8.

Burnette and Reeder are set to enter their pleas for the murder-for-hire plot on June 15 and June 6, respectively. Apodaca, who pleaded guilty in February, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 3.


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