Break down of death penalty notice against Jacksonville man charged in murder of wife’s ex-husband

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The State Attorney’s Office announced it is seeking the death penalty for one of the men arrested and charged in the murder of Jared Bridegan, the St. Johns County man gunned down in his ex-wife’s neighborhood in February of 2022.


Mario Fernandez-Saldana is accused of plotting to kill Jared Bridegan, hiring his former tenant 61-year-old, Henry Tenon to commit the murder. Tenon has been charged with second degree murder.

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Fernandez-Saldana is charged with first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and child abuse, among others.

Our Action News Jax Law and Safety expert, Dale Carson, who has decades of experience in the courtroom and in law enforcement said it’s unlikely Fernandez-Saldana will ultimately get the death penalty because he is not believed to have physically committed the murder.

“It’s gonna be an uphill battle,” Carson said. “What we’re seeing here is unusual, because the person who actually had an opportunity to not kill is the individual who actually pulled the trigger. That individual is being charged with second degree murder.”

The state’s notice of intent to seek the death penalty listed three aggravating factors.

  • 1. The defendant was previously convicted of another capital felony or of a felony involving the use of threat of violence to the person

That factor is in reference to the child abuse charge. A spokesperson with State Attorney’s Office said, “in the future penalty phase following the guilt portion of trial, Fernandez Saldana would have that felony conviction.” The child abuse charge was brought because Bridegan’s 2-year-old daughter was in the back seat of his vehicle when Bridegan was shot and killed.

The other two aggravating factors are the following:

  • 2. The capital felony was committed for pecuniary gain

This means there’s an anticipation of receiving something of value whether that is money, goods or a service.

  • 3. The capital felony was a homicide and was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification

Jared Bridegan’s widow, Kirsten, sent this statement in response to the notice:

“The announcement today is another significant step toward justice. The knowledge that the State pursuing the death penalty for Mario Fernandez Saldana is welcome news because it signifies determination and the relentless pursuit of justice for Jared, our family, and the community. We aren’t backing down to those involved in the heinous, cold-blooded murder of my husband in front of our daughter.

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I take comfort knowing Abby and Liam are no longer living with Mario and I hope all evil surrounding them and our family will be removed in due time. Jared is loved and missed more than words can express and we deeply feel his loss. While we know he is gone, we take comfort in knowing the prosecution team and law enforcement remain unrelenting in their efforts and are committed to holding everyone involved in Jared’s murder accountable. They continue to have our support and gratitude.”

The next pretrial for Fernandez Saldana is June 20, 2023.