Duval County

Slain local father Jared Bridegan’s ex-wife retains criminal defense attorney

New reports reveal the ex-wife of a slain local father of four has retained counsel as the unsolved case reaches four months without an arrest.

According to Fox News, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez and her husband Mario Fernandez have hired criminal defense attorney Hank Coxe.

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Coxe is a well-known personality in the Jacksonville courtroom. He’s formerly represented former Latitude CEO Brent Brown, who was indicted on federal tax fraud charges, as well as then-12-year old Cristian Fernandez, who was charged as an adult for first-degree murder in the death of his 2-year-old half-brother.

Coxe told Fox News he was retained to see if steps could be taken to protect Shanna Gardner-Fernandez’s young twins from publicity surrounding the murder. Fernandez and Bridegan shared 9-year-old twins Abby and Liam.

Back in April, the Daily Mail published an article with pictures of them in a park with Fernandez.

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As for any other reasons behind his hiring, Coxe told Fox “there is none.”

Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson said even though Coxe is only listed as a criminal defense attorney on his firm’s website, he can take any case he wants.

Carson is currently a criminal defense attorney himself. He’s also a former FBI agent.

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“We’re allowed under bar rules to essentially represent somebody in any legal matter,” Carson said.

Action News Jax reached out to Fernandez for comment. She did not answer or return our call.

Jacksonville Beach Police said they are not revealing any information on whether detectives have a person of interest or suspect.

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Sergeant Tonya Tator said detectives are still looking for that dark-colored Ford F-150 truck.

“They are working diligently day to day, trying to get more information and get this case resolved,” Tator said.

She said there is still not a lot of new information to share because it may jeopardize the case.

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“When some information does come available that we can release to the public without jeopardizing the case, we most certainly will let everybody know,” Tator said.

We reached out to Coxe ourselves but he did not get back to us.

Bridegan’s widow Kirsten wished to not comment at this time.

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